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The BBC's Richard Hannaford
"For some time health campaigners have been warning about a growing epidemic of obesity"
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Dr Mary Rudolph, Paediatrician
"Children are a lot less active now"
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Friday, 4 May, 2001, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
British children getting fatter
Children at a fat camp
Fat camps try to encourage children to eat healthily
One in three 11-year-old girls is overweight and one in 10 is clinically obese, say scientists.

Researchers in Leeds found that boys were also suffering obesity problems, with 27% of 11-year-olds overweight and one in five obese.

The number of youngsters considered fat or obese has almost doubled in the last decade.

Rising rates of obesity and weight problems among children is now a major health issue as more than a million children under 16 in the UK are now classified as obese.

We are attributing it, not surprisingly, to diet and a lack of physical activity

Dr Mary Rudolph

The issue of obesity in children was highlighted recently by the case of five-year-old Georgina Beauchamp, from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

Georgina, who weighed five-and-a-half stones, hit the headlines after the headmaster of her primary school wrote to her parents expressing concern about her weight.

Her parents denied their daughter had a problem and later removed her from the school.

Couch potatoes

Health experts blame a couch potato mentality for the growing weight problems, which are leading to an increase in childhood diseases such as asthma and diabetes.

Dr Mary Rudolph, a paediatrician at the Leeds Community and Mental Health Trust, said overweight children would become unhealthy adults.

"We are attributing it, not surprisingly, to diet and a lack of physical activity."

She said children should be educated as early as possible to eat healthily.

"Primary schools are a good place to start because the problems tend to start at that age and children at that age are more malleable to lifestyle changes."

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed that one in five nine-year-old boys and girls was overweight and one in 10 obese.

A quarter of all 10-year-olds were overweight while as early as the age of seven, 14% of girls and 10% of boys were considered unhealthily fat.

Overall, 22% of all boys and girls aged seven to 11 were overweight, with 11% of all girls and 12% of all boys classed as obese.

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See also:

30 Mar 01 | Health
Obesity 'starts in the womb'
18 Jan 01 | Health
Obesity asthma risk
05 Jan 01 | Health
Childhood obesity soars in UK
09 Feb 01 | Health
Toddlers getting fatter
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