Approximately one-quarter of Australian children aged 2-17 are overweight or obese, with projections indicating a rise in these figures. Childhood obesity incurs significant costs and can lead to diseases like diabetes and heart conditions early in life. Addressing childhood weight issues is crucial for reducing adult obesity, enhancing life quality, and lowering healthcare expenses.
Nurses in schools and communities are key in supporting the prevention and management of obesity in young people. Nurse-led interventions have shown promise in combating childhood obesity, yet there’s a lack of economic evaluation for these strategies. This position statement highlights the potential of nurse-led initiatives in tackling this issue, emphasising the need for additional training, resources, and leadership in this area.
ACN calls on the Federal government to:
- Ensure nursing representation on key advisory boards and consultation initiatives.
- Create mechanisms and opportunities to pilot innovative nurse-led approaches around overweight and obese youths at community and service levels.
- Create a nursing workforce that is equipped to empower children, parents and families to seek support to prevent and manage overweight and obese youths.
- Support and resource the nursing workforce to identify children at risk of excessive weight gain and provide timely, sensitive interventions targeting a whole of family approach to improve eating and activity behaviours.
- Allocate a minimum of five percent of its health budget to preventative health.
- Regulate the marketing of unhealthy food to children across all media channels, as well as public spaces such as sports grounds and public transport.
- Call for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and foods.
- Use public spaces, digital and television marketing opportunities to advertise healthier options.
- Ensure that every school-aged child has access to a suitably qualified and experienced registered nurse.