Media releases

January 29, 2016


This week’s report by the World Health Organisation – Ending Childhood Obesity – highlights the need for governments, businesses and the community to work together to address the rising trend of children becoming overweight and obese.

The Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity found that:

“Changes in food availability and type, and a decline in physical activity for transport or play, have resulted in energy imbalance. Children are exposed to ultra-processed, energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, which are cheap and readily available. Opportunities for physical activity, both in and out of school, have been reduced and more time is spent on screenbased and sedentary leisure activities.”[1]

With one in four Australian children overweight or obese[2], Medibank is committed to ‘Growing Healthy Kids’, and invests in local programs across the country to encourage better health and wellbeing for Australian children.

“We want a healthier future for the next generation, and so it’s vital that we increase awareness and take-up of healthy habits so our children are placed in good stead for a healthy adulthood,” Medibank’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Linda Swan, said.

The Report stated that:

“There is an urgent need to act now to improve the health of this generation and the next … This requires government commitment and leadership, long-term investment and engagement of the whole of society to protect the rights of children to good health and well-being.”[3]

Two key recommendations of the Commission include promoting the intake of health foods, and health, nutrition and physical activity for school-age children[4].

“Since 2011, Medibank’s Community Fund has been providing grants to programs that do just this; promote long-lasting health and wellbeing outcomes among children,” Dr Swan said.

“From kid-run programs to promote healthy food choices among their peers, to sports and recreational programs and youth clubs, we’re supporting local communities to support each other for a healthier future.”

The Medibank Community Fund is also the principal partner of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, which supports schools and early learning centres to teach children healthy eating habits through an experience-based kitchen garden program.

Currently, over 800 Australian primary schools and 100,000 students participate in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program, which focuses on children growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh, delicious food, and hundreds more learning centres are being supported by the Foundation to deliver food education to children.

CEO of the Kitchen Garden Foundation, Ange Barry, said it’s important to help children form positive food habits at a young age.

“We want to ensure the next generation are encouraged to eat well, and students love kitchen and garden classes because they’re fun,” Ms Barry said.

“Pleasurable food education is about children experiencing the joy of digging in the garden, picking fresh veggies, smelling and tasting the food they prepare, sharing the experience with their classmates and helpers, and then taking it home to their families.”

“It’s exciting to see our program inspiring more like it internationally, and wonderful to see the World Health Organisation formally recognise the value of this sort of program, structured and integrated within the education curriculum,” Ms Barry said.

Medibank has supported the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation since 2012.

“This partnership and our community grants program form a strong foundation for Medibank’s increasing commitment to grow healthy kids,” Dr Swan said.

“We all need to work together if we’re going to reverse the trend of childhood obesity, and Medibank is absolutely committed to helping to build the future health of the next generation."

For more information about the Medibank Community Fund, visit



[1] World Health Organisation – Report by the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity  Page V1

[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

[3] World Health Organisation – Report by the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity  Page 40

[4] World Health Organisation – Report by the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity  Page VII


About Medibank:

Medibank is Australia’s leading private health insurer, providing private health insurance to approximately 3.9 million people through its Medibank and ahm brands. Customers can access Medibank’s products and services through more than 80 retail stores, as well as digital and telephone platforms. Medibank also provides a range of complementary healthcare services including healthcare management services for government and corporate clients, online and telephone-based health services and the distribution of travel, life and pet insurance.

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