Early in 2003, Sydney researchers revealed that the number of overweight Australian children aged between seven and 15 increased by 60 to 70 per cent between 1985 and 1997. Obesity in this age range increased two to fourfold in the same period. The 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found that among youth aged 2 to 16 years, 17 per cent were overweight and 6 per cent were obese, with numbers similar between boys and girls, and both peaking in the 9 to 13-year age group.
Excessive weight is now known to play a part in diseases, ranging from heart attacks to strokes, diabetes and cancers. Additional research shows that children who overeat are also more likely to have poor self-esteem and be at greater risk of mental health problems such as depression.