Almost one in four Australian secondary school students are overweight or obese, according to a study published on Monday in the Medical Journal of Australia.
The study, which surveyed more than 14,000 students in 238 secondary schools across the nation, found socioeconomic status and lifestyle affected a student's risk of being overweight or obese.
Researchers who conducted the survey said their analyses in the study indicated a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity among male students.
"A clear gradient related to SEP (socioeconomic position) was evident, as the prevalence of overweight and obesity increased with declining SEP. Indeed, SEP emerged as the strongest factor associated with overweight or obesity among Australian secondary school students after taking into account other demographic and health-behavior characteristics," researchers wrote in the study.
The study found low physical activity levels and greater time spent in small-screen recreation were both independently associated with overweight or obesity among Australian adolescents.
It also found strong evidence of a link between weight status and short sleep duration.
"These findings suggest that preventive measures should include a particular focus on facilitating physical activity and reducing sedentary behavior, as well as promoting adequate sleep," researchers wrote in the study.
Australian guidelines recommend that adolescents engage in at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day and spend no more than two hours of electronic media for entertainment a day.
"Creative supportive environments for physical activity may help to promote increased physical activity among young people and could possibly displace time spent in small-screen recreation," researchers wrote.
The study, funded by cancer councils around Australia and the National Heart Foundation of Australia, aimed to identify possible intervention strategies to prevent weight issues among high school students in the nation.