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Sunday, 7 January, 2001, 13:10 GMT
TV 'encourages poor eating habits'
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Television shows may set a bad example on eating habits
The eating habits of characters in television shows such as the Simpsons, Friends and ER are being blamed for children getting fat.

Dublin politician Martin Brady, who represents Ireland's government party Fianna Fail, has urged parents to exercise more control over their children's television habits to stop the youngsters becoming overweight.

Friends
Friends for dinner?
"Nutritionists now believe viewers of TV programmes can be influenced about the way they eat after being bombarded with messages promoting unhealthy eating habits," he said.

"They fear that such well-loved characters as Homer, the cast from Friends, and even the doctors in ER, are poor role models because of their dietary habits, and are calling on TV producers to take a more responsible approach."

Mr Brady said a study of The Simpsons found that 50% of references to food involved fats, sweets and alcohol.

'Mindless snacking'

"The Simpson clan was also criticised for mindless snacking, high alcohol consumption, the use of food as a bribe or reward, and equating weight loss with starvation," he said.

"Even the doctors in ER were criticised after being seen tucking into fry-ups or downing copious amounts of alcohol."

Mr Brady said the research findings were something for adults to keep in mind, especially at this time of the year, when many were trying to adopt health new living standards for 2001.

The appeal follows a study published in the British Medical Journal last week which found the proportion of children classed as overweight or obese rocketed between the mid-80s and mid-90s.

The report's authors, from King's College in London, concluded these problems would probably produce larger numbers of overweight and obese adults in the coming years.

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22 Dec 00 | Health
'Obesity a world-wide hazard'
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