School initiatives giving kids a chance against obesity

ALMOST half of Northern Rivers residents are overweight or obese, according to the most recent figures from the NSW Ministry of Health.

The figures show 47% of people in the Northern NSW local health district are overweight or obese, slightly less than the state average of 49.7%.

A total of 29.1% of people surveyed in the region are overweight, down from the state average of 31.1%.

And at 17.9%, just under a fifth of Northern Rivers locals are obese, also below the state average of 18.6%.

Health promotion manager for the Northern NSW local health district, Jillian Adams, said the figures were worrying given the number of chronic diseases associated with being overweight.

She said some examples include common cancers, heart disease, strokes and type two diabetes.

"We live in an obesogenic society," Ms Adams said.

But she said the number of overweight and obese children in the state was starting to decrease as a result of the emphasis on healthy eating and physical activity in schools.

Clinical psychology PhD student Carmel Harrison from the Australian National University is researching what role body image has on eating disorders.

She said some people who suffer from binge eating disorders place a large amount of self-worth on body shape and size, which can lead to unrealistic diets.

"They go on a diet which often has really restrictive rules, which are unrealistic, and when people break a dietary rule, they respond with 'What the heck', now I've done it, I'll start again tomorrow, giving them an excuse to over-eat in that position," she said.



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