4364.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12  
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Contents >> Health risk factors >> Children's risk factors


Healthy habits formed early in life can follow on throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. Conversely, less than healthy habits established in childhood may continue into adulthood, increasing a person's associated health risks such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. The following commentary discusses risk factors for children aged 5-17 years.

In 2011-12, 25.3% of children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese, comprised of 17.7% overweight and 7.6% obese. The proportion of girls who were overweight or obese was higher than that of boys (27.1% compared with 23.6%). There has been no change in the proportion of children who were overweight or obese between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

Graph Image for Body Mass Index(a), children aged 5-17 years, 2011-12

Footnote(s): (a) Based on Body Mass Index for children whose height and weight was measured.

Source(s): Australian Health Survey: First Results

Good nutrition can have many positive health benefits. In 2011-12, 95.3% of children aged 5-11 years were reported to usually meet their recommended daily intake of 1 serve of fruit, compared to only 20.3% of children aged 12-17 years (for whom 3 serves of fruit per day are considered adequate).

Younger children were also more likely to meet the age-specific guidelines for vegetable intake than older children: 56.1% of children aged 5-7 years met the recommended intake of at least 2 serves per day, 30.8% of children aged 8-11 years met the recommended intake of at least 3 serves while 15.2% of children aged 12-17 years met the recommended intake of at least 4 serves of vegetables.

Milk is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, which is important for forming strong and healthy bones. In 2011-12, almost all children (97.9%) aged 5-17 years consumed milk; the majority of children consumed cow's milk (95.7%), followed by soy milk (1.7%).

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