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Young Children at Risk of Poor Nutrition

The first survey to look at the activity and food habits of children - jointly funded by the Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Australian Food and Grocery Council - has been released. Paediatric Dietitian, Susie Burrell from The Children's Hospital at Westmead believes the survey indicates that young children and teens are at risk of poor nutrition and low intakes of fibre, calcium and vitamins.

 

The first survey to look at the activity and food habits of children - jointly funded by the Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Australian Food and Grocery Council - has been released. Paediatric Dietitian, Susie Burrell from The Children's Hospital at Westmead believes the survey indicates that young children and teens are at risk of poor nutrition and low intakes of fibre, calcium and vitamins.

The 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey is the first survey completed on the nutritional habits of Australian children for over 10 years. 4500 children aged between 2-16 years were surveyed via interview, telephone and computer on their dietary intake habits with primary findings as follows:

- The vegetable intake of young children is poor (2-3 years) - only 1 in 4 children meet the requirements and only 1 in 10 teenagers

- 23% of children are overweight or obese, which is consistent with findings in early 2000

- Young children receive 25% of their energy intake from added sugars, more than from starchy carbohydrates. This does not differentiate between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars

- 80%of teenage girls and 40% of teenage boys are not getting enough calcium as sugar sweetened drinks replace nutrient richdairy

- Children are having increasing amount of screen time with an average of 4 hours per day for 14 year olds.

Ms Burrell believes the survey indicates that young children and teens are at risk of poor nutrition and low intakes of fibre, calcium, and vitamins.

"Parents need to remember that young children under 5 years of age develop food habits they maintain for life," she said.

"Early nutrition, including the introduction of more vegetables and wholegrains rather than sugars and dairy rich foods, is crucial for optimal nutritional practices"

"Teens are at increased risk and need to enjoy family meals packed with calcium and iron at this important time of growth, development, social and academic commitments."

For fact sheets on obesity and physical activity visit: http://www.chw.edu.au/parents/kidshealth/safety_factsheets/

The Children's Hospital at Westmead is the largest paediatric centre in NSW, providing the most advanced care and treatment options for children from NSW, Australia and across the Pacific Rim. 

Established in 1880, The Children's Hospital at Westmead is a stand-alone public Hospital and registered charity with 3,000 staff working in 150 departments. Over 60,000 sick children and their families are cared for each year in a family-focused, healing environment. Funded by the NSW Government, The Children's Hospital at Westmead provides significant enhancements to services aided by the generosity of individual and corporate donors.  For more information visit http://www.chw.edu.au/

Media contact:  Julie Law, Media Assistant, T: 02 9845 3364 a.h. 02 9845 0000, juliel1@chw.edu.au

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This document was released on Tuesday, 7 October, 2008

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