School student health survey

12 January 2011

A survey of NSW school students shows the proportion of those overweight and obese has stabilised.

More than 8000 school students from 101 schools were measured for height, weight, eating habits, movement skills and fitness in early 2010 as part of the NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition survey.

Key findings

The survey, conducted by University of Sydney researchers, found overweight and obesity rates among children have plateaued at 22.8 per cent after rising markedly from 1985 to 2004.

Between 2004 and 2010 the combined rate of overweight and obesity among boys decreased for all year groups except Kindergarten and Year 2, the results show.

The rate of combined overweight and obesity among girls increased by 0.02 per cent.

Health minister Carmel Tebbutt said the improvement should not lead to complacency and further efforts must be made to bring down the rate.

"This survey provides vital information for assessing how effective our prevention initiatives have been over the past six years and for tailoring future prevention programs," Ms Tebbutt said.

Education minister Verity Firth welcomed the survey results.

"There's more to do and we'll continue to work hard on tackling the issue," Ms Firth said.

The survey also found that less than half of the students met the recommended daily intake of vegetables.

Other report findings include:

Almost two-thirds of Years 6, 8 and 10 students met the Australian physical activity guidelines during summer terms, and only half in winter.

One if five parents of Kindergarten and Years 2 and 4 children know what level of activity is recommended for children.

On a usual weekday, students in Kindergarten and those in Years 2 and 4 spend approximately three to 3.5 hours in sedentary behaviour outside of school hours.

On a usual weekend day, students in Kindergarten and those in Years 2 and 4 spend approximately 5.5 to 6.5 hours in sedentary behaviours, and those in Years 6, 8 and 10 spend 5.5 to 9 hours in such behaviours.

Data on children's weight, nutrition and physical activity has been collected in NSW since 1985.

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