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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 April, 2004, 06:00 GMT 07:00 UK
Cancer warning for obese children
Boy eating a burger, spaghetti hoops and fried potatoes
Experts say childhood obesity is linked to illnesses in adulthood
A health expert has warned that tens of thousands of overweight children are in danger of dying before their parents.

Dr Colin Waine, of the National Obesity Forum, said obese children were up to 20% more likely to develop cancer as adults than those of a healthy weight.

He accused the government of failing to tackle a health timebomb and claimed GPs had been told not to prescribe weight loss drugs to save money.

A spokesman for the Department of Health rejected his criticism.

We are in danger of breeding a generation who will die before their parents
Dr Colin Waine, director of the National Obesity Forum

Dr Waine told BBC Radio Five Live recent research had shown a disturbing link childhood obesity and cancer in adults.

"An obese boy is 14% more likely to develop cancer as an adult and an obese girl is 20% more likely to develop cancer as an adult.

"These are shocking statistics."

He claimed government ministers were not taking the health risks seriously enough.

"In terms of childhood obesity, there are so many cardiovascular risk factors present in children with serious obesity that we are in danger of breeding a generation who will die before their parents," he said.

Physical exercise

"This is such a serious issue that children are now displaying illnesses previously seen in adults like certain types of diabetes and heart disease."

Dr Waine and other health experts recently called on a Health Select Committee to include obesity in the National Service Framework, thus forcing doctors to devote more resources to its treatment.

The health department spokesman said the government was committed to tackling rising levels of obesity.

He said prescriptions for obesity drugs had trebled and stressed the importance of local schemes encouraging children to take physical exercise.

The government is awaiting a report this summer on a possible link between advertising and children's consumption of junk food.

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