Rates of child obesity drop but still high

THE prevalence of obese and overweight preschoolers may be on the decline in Australia.

A significant reduction has occurred in Victoria over the past decade, and may be mirrored nationwide, researchers say.

However, they warn against complacency, saying that despite the drop, one in every six to eight children in this age group remains in an unhealthy weight range.

The Deakin University study analysed data from more than 225,000 maternal and child health records between 1997 and 2007, with information available for about 129,000 two-year-olds and 96,000 children aged 3.5 years.

Combined prevalence rates of overweight and obesity dropped by 3.1% for 3.5-year-olds, from 18.5% in 1999 to 15.4% in 2007, and the rate for two-year-olds dropped by 1.1% to 12.4%.

The prevalence of overweight and obesity was consistently higher in girls, older children, those not breastfed or only partially breastfed, and in the lowest quartile of