Researchers at Deakin University have discovered there may be associations between quality of life and behaviours underpinning obesity among regional and rural school children.

Australian Rotary Health Royce Abbey Postdoctoral Fellowship recipient Dr Erin Hoare and her team at the Food and Mood Centre and Global Obesity Centre examined data from a large cohort of Australian primary school children, looking at how obesogenic risk behaviours such as physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, screen time and soft drink consumption were associated with health-related quality of life.

“The relationship between health-related quality of life and overweight obesity among regional and rural school-aged children was apparent, although some gender differences were observed,” Dr Hoare said.

“Female school children reported significantly lower emotional functioning and male school children reported significantly lower school functioning.”

Achieving enough physical activity on five out of seven days, consuming two serves of fruit or more per day, and adhering to daily screen time recommendations of no more than 2 hours per day, was also found to be significantly related to higher health related quality of life scores among males.

Other findings suggested that meeting physical activity guidelines was significantly associated to increased health related quality of life scores among females. While overweight and obese males reported lower physical and global health-related quality of life compared to normal weight males.

“Soft drink consumption was associated to lower health related quality of life scores among males only,” Dr Hoare said.

Among the sample of children aged 9-12, just over a quarter (27.1%) of participants were considered overweight or obese.

Dr Hoare said the study highlights the imperative to intervene in childhood to enable health behaviours and that it goes beyond longer term physical health.

“Our results demonstrate that emotional, social, school, and physical functioning are closely connected to the health behaviours which impact upon children’s health later in life.”

“There is clearly great public health and economic potential in aligning overweight and obesity prevention, psycho-social health, and health behavioural promotion efforts.”

This study was recently published in the journal Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, download the article here.


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