New data from leading health business Bupa shows that young parents under 40 are showing dangerously high levels of obesity, compared to people of the same age who are single or don’t have kids.
The Bupa Family Health Survey¹ revealed 61 per cent of surveyed parents under 40 years were overweight based on their Body Mass Index (BMI²). This is in stark contrast to 40 per cent of couples without kids and 45 per cent of young singles.
However, Bupa Chief Medical Officer, Dr Paul Bates said obesity shouldn’t be seen as an inevitable option for families.
“Family life can be go, go, go, and we know sometimes parents’ health can suffer due to a busy household. While this can have serious implications for the parent, it’s also easy to forget that kids are picking up on mum and dads’ behaviours along the way.”
“It’s concerning that many young parents have reached such an unhealthy outcome at such an early age. In order for kids to learn the behaviours they need to live a healthy lifestyle early, parents need to show them how it’s done,” said Dr Bates.
Results from a recent American study³ suggested that parents’ ability to lose weight was a significant contributor to their children’s ability to lose weight and battle against childhood obesity.
Furthermore, the Bupa survey found that it’s not just mums we need to be concerned about, fathers with kids at home had the most alarming figures, with three quarters in the overweight or obese categories, and more than a third of this group are in denial about their actual weight classification.
“It’s clear Australian dads in particular are not making the link between their weight and the chronic health problems they are likely to suffer, including Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Nor are they considering the impact on the health of their kids,” says Dr Bates.
“When parents look after themselves it puts in place a crucial piece of the puzzle. For families with a long history of obesity, a young dad turning himself around can really help break the cycle for the whole family.”
The research also showed high numbers of Australians, but particularly those with children living at home, suffer tiredness, fatigue and headaches.
1. About the research: This Bupa research was conducted by Quantum Market Research and included a survey of 1188 (526 male and 662 female) adults who were young singles, young couples, or in young or older families, across Australia.
2. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a statistical measure of body weight based on a respondent’s stated weight and height. Though it does not measure the percentage of body fat, it is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on height.
3. Boutelle, K., Cafri, G., Crow, S. Parent Predictors of Child Weight change in Family Based Behavioral Obesity Treatment. Obesity. Spring 2012. (accessed online 7 Jun 2012)