Okely Tony

‘A future for the World’s Children?’

That’s the title of the research published in medical journal The Lancet in February 2020.

The new report found Australian children are thriving now but their future is uncertain.

IHMRI affiliate, Senior Professor Tony Okely, Director of Research at UOW’s Early Start said the report showed Australians need to change their thinking.

“This report reinforces that all Australians need to think more about the future of our country – our children. Australia is performing well on the flourishing index, but more needs to be done here to reduce health and education inequities, especially among our indigenous children and those who are poor.”

The report, commissioned by the World Health Organization and UNICEF ranked the performance of 180 countries.

Child survival, education and nutrition rates were measured.

On the child sustainability index – which focused on the level of Co2 emissions – Australia was in the bottom ten.

“While we like to believe we are putting our children first and meeting their needs, our ranking on the Sustainability Index shows that our actions are not meeting our words. Australia’s very low score on this Index is eroding many of the advances we have made in ensuring our children are flourishing,” said Professor Okely.

Australia ranked well for child survival and well being and was in the top 20 for education and healthcare.

When it came to sustainability and greenhouse emissions, Australia ranked 176.

“Our children are growing up in environments that are not supporting their right to an active, healthy life. The high levels of child obesity testify to this. Children are living more sedentary lifestyles, spending large amounts of time using electronic media for entertainment. This exposes them to marketing of unhealthy foods, displaces time they could spend being physically active, and compromises healthy sleep patterns.”

“With the vast majority of our children living in cities we need to pay greater attention to their needs and give them a voice in the planning of our urban environments. More needs to be done to promote active transportation. Our reliance on motor vehicles has resulted in deteriorating levels of air quality and long periods of time spent sitting. Better infrastructure in the form of footpaths, cycle-ways/bike lanes, and the rights of pedestrians is needed. Our children need better access to parks and playgrounds and to be able to move freely around their neighbourhoods without fear of safety or the traffic,” said Professor Okely.

Read more
Media contact
Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator
t: 4221 4702 m: 0417 044 867

e: louisenegline@ihmri.org.au

Top photo: Senior Professor Tony Okely

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