Giving Kids a Healthy Start

In my role as Executive Director of Elite Success and Partnerships for Sport and Recreation Queensland, I am fortunate to work in an area I’m extremely passionate about, and that is motivating people to live their best, most healthy lifestyles and to maximise their potential.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland are one of the fantastic organisations I’ve worked with in this role. They’re on a mission to help all Queenslanders ‘Boost your Healthy’ with a holistic approach that includes physical activity, healthy eating and wellbeing, and programs to suit all ages, abilities and fitness levels.

Earlier this year, I was an ambassador for The Billion Steps Challenge – it wasn’t an easy feat during COVD-19 lockdowns, but we made it there! I was pretty proud to log over 400,000 steps in the month of May, and even more proud to see Queenslanders smash the billion-step goals in only 32 days. As part of Health and Wellbeing Queensland’s ‘Boost your Healthy’ initiative, I even issued a #BoostChallengeQld by throwing a volleyball with my daughter, Jordan.

The next big thing I’ll be part of is the launch of Clinicians Hub; a digital ecosystem of information, resources and tools designed to empower clinicians to talk about, identify, prevent and manage childhood obesity.

The early years of a child’s life lay the foundations for their future health, development and wellbeing. As a mother and athlete, this is particularly close to my heart. I even founded the Live Out Loud foundation to raise awareness and help tackle the issue.

Childhood obesity is now considered a chronic disease; more than 1 in 4 Queensland children are considered overweight or obese (compared with 1 in 10 in the early 1990s), and this increases their risk of chronic disease and life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes, respiratory complications like obstructive sleep apnoea and cardiovascular complications, not to mention the psychosocial impacts.

55% of Queensland kids are not meeting the recommended daily activity level of one hour per day, and 1 in 4 children is inactive on more days of the week than they are active. A 2016 study found a startling 96% of children were not meeting recommendations for vegetable consumption.

So, if our kids aren’t getting up and keeping active, what are they doing? Well, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that screen time is a big factor, with 38% of children exceeding the recommended maximum screen time of two hours per day.

We want to give our children the best start possible so they can enjoy long and healthy lives, and that means equipping ourselves with the knowledge to set them up with healthy habits that will stay with them throughout their lives: a varied and nutritious diet, regular activity, boosting their mental health and wellbeing, and limiting exposure to digital screens.

The Clinician’s Hub and Model of Care for childhood obesity will launch next week on Wednesday 15 July with a live interactive webinar. I’ll be part of the conversation, alongside a panel of leading health and wellbeing professionals. Registrations are open now – click here to join us for this free, informative webinar.

Image: Alaric Sim via Unsplash

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