Childhood obesity costs Australia $17 million every year, new analysis shows.
With a fifth of Australian kids overweight before they start school and one in 20 obese, scientists at the Unversity of Sydney have put a public health price tag on the growing health issue.
According to the study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, each obese child incurs a healthcare cost $367 above that of a child of healthy weight.
The direct healthcare costs of children with obesity aged 2-4 years were 1.62 times those of healthy weight children.
A large proportion of the costs were incurred for hospital treatment.
"Our estimate of the annual cost to the Australian healthcare system of obesity in children aged under five further highlights the importance of prevention in an age group that is often overlooked by researchers and public health professionals," the authors wrote.