ONE in five Victorian two-year-olds are overweight, a landmark Australian study has found
But researchers have discovered that parents have a window until their kids start school to take action before the negative health effects start to kick in.
The study, of more than 16,000 two- to 18-year-olds by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, found the happiest, healthiest kids in Australia are of a normal weight.
Although toddlers who are overweight or obese don't suffer any health defects until they start school, by the time they are adolescents their health will be considerably worse than their normal-weight peers.
By the time children hit their late teens, those who are overweight or obese have more special health needs, more wheezing and asthma, poor sleep patterns, and poorer physical and social functioning.
The study found being underweight was more of a health issue for toddlers, but this changed by the time the children were six or seven when the effects of obesity started to show in health outcomes.
"In young children, lack of obesity impacts coupled with heightened concern about underweight is likely to impede efforts to systematically address early-onset obesity," Prof Wake said.
The study found 20 to 25 per cent of children were overweight or obese at all ages, and around 5 per cent were underweight.
heraldsun.com.au 27 Jun 2012