Childhood obesity study emphasises importance of exercise for young and old

September 20, 2015

16 April 2015

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) welcomes VicHealth’s recent study: Influencing Children’s Health: Critical Windows for Intervention, which reports that lack of exercise, poor diet and overuse of technology are key drivers of childhood obesity.

Parents’ crucial role in modelling and enforcing healthy behaviour is highlighted in the study, which reveals that many parents use technology as a reward system and inadvertently reinforce excessive screen time. The study also finds that parents who model being active and eating well are more likely to positively influence their children.

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) affirms VICHealth’s findings and supports the important role of regular physical activity for all members of the family, the importance of physiotherapists in prescribing appropriate activity for patients, and the role of community education in changing attitudes.

APA CEO, Cris Massis, says: “Physiotherapists with their education, training and competence in behavior-change, biomechanics and therapeutic exercise are ideally suited to identify, manage and prevent obesity. They can develop a program of exercise to increase physical activity safely and effectively for patients at risk of becoming overweight or obese, as well as for people already managing obesity-related illness.

“By identifying necessary and achievable changes in lifestyle for children, adolescents and adults, physiotherapists are at the frontline of managing obesity and its related conditions in our community. Healthcare professionals including physiotherapists, GPs, psychologists and dieticians need to work more in partnership to support individuals who are or are at risk of being overweight and obese,” Massis says.

The APA recently launched its Australia’s Biggest Killers health awareness campaign, which aims to educate Australians young and old about the real dangers of sedentary living.

With headlines like “Australia’s Biggest Killers” accompanied by a startling montage of a shark, crocodile, snake, spider, and the low fatality rates from attack by these creatures compared with the more than 7,000 deaths per annum that are related to obesity, the APA hopes to spur people into action.

“The APA’s new Australia’s Biggest Killer campaign aims to get Australians off the couch – to get moving, embrace a healthy, active lifestyle, and to see their physiotherapist if they need help with motivation or finding the appropriate level and type of physical activity,” Massis says.

About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)

The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 17,000 members who conduct more than 21 million consultations each year.