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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Children eat themselves ill
Children eating
Many youngsters will grow into obese adults
Health experts are warning that children are more unhealthy today than they were during post-war rationing.

Evidence suggests youngsters could be making themselves "pre-ill" with a diet dependent on junk food.

A conference at the Royal College of Paediatrics in London on Thursday will hear that the snack culture of the twenty-first century is creating a whole generation which is eating itself sick.

Rickets

More than two thirds of pre-school children are fed an unhealthy diet of white bread, chips and sweets.

A quarter of them are over-weight and 5% are not getting enough vitamin D.

Some are even developing rickets.

The conference will hear how over half five to 18 year olds eat no leafy green vegetables, relying instead on junk food saturated with fat and salt

Diabetes

Some experts predict that by 2030, half of all adults will be obese and plagued by associated illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and strokes.

Sue Walkley
Sue Walkley had big problems with son Oscar
Sue Walkley had to seek professional help to encourage her five-year-old son Oscar to eat anything other than sweets.

She said: "We were advised to give him small rewards when he did eat.

"I was finding that I was giving him sweets just to see him consume something."

Conference organisers hope to address why children are leading such unhealthy lifestyles and where the dependence on junk food stems from.

They also discussed what can be done now to ensure they do not end up sick adults.

Cath MacDonald, nutritionist for the Federation of Bakers, dismissed the notion that white bread was bad for children.

She said: "We should all be increasing the amount of starchy carbohydrate that we eat in place of fatty foods.

"All types of bread contain a wealth of nutrients. Brown and wholegrain breads provide plenty of fibre whereas white bread contains valuable calcium."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"The couch potato generation"
See also:

26 Apr 99 | UK Education
22 Aug 00 | Health
21 May 01 | Health
01 Jun 00 | Health
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