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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Overweight children 'risk health'
Some foods may have greater health benefits

Children in Northern Ireland are putting on too much weight and risking their future health, a medical expert has warned.

Statistics from the Health Promotion Agency show that a third of boys and a quarter of girls aged 12 years in the province are carrying excess weight.

More than half a million adults in Northern Ireland are overweight and 250,000 are obese, according to the agency.

"The statistics for adults are worrying, but there is an increasing concern for children, where a similar pattern is emerging," said Dr Brian Gaffney, chief executive of the Health Promotion Agency.

Overweight children can also suffer from psychological problems including depression and a lack of self confidence
Dr Brian Gaffney

"Research shows that obesity can impact on a child's life on many levels and casts a shadow over future health.

"Obesity can present immediate and future health problems, including high blood pressure, raised blood cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

"Overweight children can also suffer from psychological problems including depression and a lack of self confidence and self esteem."

Dr Gaffney said the fundamental causes of obesity were inactive lifestyles and high fat, high calorie eating patterns.

To encourage adults to help children make healthier lifestyle choices, the British Dietetic Association has launched an "Eat 2b Fit" campaign for the month of June.

Children, schools and families will be advised on eating a balanced and varied diet for good health.

Dr Gaffney said the latest issue of the Health Promotion Agency's journal, Promoting Health, focused on the issue of obesity.

He said he hoped it would stimulate debate about how health, education and other professionals could work together to tackle the problem of obesity.

NI people 'eating more healthily'
17 Feb 03  |  Northern Ireland
NI children 'must eat more healthily'
18 Apr 02  |  Northern Ireland
Dangers of a poor diet
13 Dec 01  |  UK

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