Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Telly tubby lifestyle
Televisions, videos and computers are creating a generation of fat toddlers, even though they are actually eating less, researchers have found.
The new research, reported in the British Medical Journal, is being touted as the first hard evidence of the scale of the problem.
Researchers from Glasgow and Bristol studied 1,000 children born in Bristol in 1991 and 1992.
They found 16% were overweight at the age of two, but that by the age of four the proportion had risen to 20%.
Six per cent of the two-year-olds and eight per cent of the four-year-olds were defined as obese.
Obesity numbers rise
The findings show that the proportion of children who are overweight and who are obese has increased since the 1980s.
Other studies show today's youngsters are eating less than in the past, but are watching more television at an early age.
Dr Reilly said: "What we suspect is happening is that pre-school children have been replacing natural active behaviour with inactive behaviour like watching TV.
"Children have been eating less, but are watching more TV - which includes watching videos, Playstations or PC screens.
"The percentage increases do not sound a lot - but if you imagine a large school or nursery intake of 1,000 youngsters, you would expect 50 children to be obese, but we are finding around 80."