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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Children 'breakfast on junk food'
Too many young children lead inactive lifestyles
A quarter of children eat sweets and crisps for breakfast, research shows.

The survey, carried out by the Doctor-Patient Partnership (DPP), found that 43% of nine to 16-year-olds wanted to change their weight.

However, most did not know how to do it, and three-quarters had no idea how many portions of fruit and vegetables they should eat a day.

Of 800 children questioned, 200 admitted that they did not eat a proper breakfast, but instead snacked on crisps and sweets on their way to school.

Health awareness

Nobody can force young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle

Tom Wylie, National Youth Agency
The DPP is launching a campaign to increase health awareness among 11 to 16-year-olds.

The "Move Your Butt" will target youngsters in school canteens in a bid to promote healthier lifestyles, advising children on how to eat healthily in and out of school.

It will also provide information on sex and drugs through an interactive website.

The campaign coincides with the launch of an initiative by the children's charity Barnardo's to encourage toddlers to take more exercise.

Studies suggest that the number of obese children has doubled in the past ten years, and that one in five children under four is overweight.

Experts have warned that rising levels of obesity in youngsters will lead to increased rates of heart disease, diabetes and premature deaths in the future.

Many children prefer to spend their spare time watching television, playing computer games or using the internet.

It is feared that the decline of traditional PE classes at school is also helping to exacerbate the problem.

Dr Simon Fradd, DPP chairman said: "Ensuring young people have access to healthy foods at school and to information and advice about exercise, sex and drugs will go a long way to reduce confusion and enable young people to take control of their own health.

"This has clear benefits for them now and in later life."

Tom Wylie, chief executive of the National Youth Agency, said: "Nobody can force young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but if we can provide them with the information they need, in an accessible and non-hectoring way, we enable them at least to make informed choices.

"Projects like this can play an important role in ensuring more young people decide for themselves to choose health."

Toddlers' exercise

Barnardo's hopes that its toddler exercise programme with encourage good life-long habits.

The "Toddler Training Programme" is a combination of ten simple play exercises such as star jumps, hopping and skipping.

Each exercise is illustrated on a set of cards and the package comes with a CD of music to accompany each exercise.

Barnardo's is organising a fun run for toddlers in June.

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See also:

05 Jan 01 | Health
Childhood obesity soars in UK
04 May 01 | Health
British children getting fatter
09 Feb 01 | Health
Toddlers getting fatter
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