BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 13:43 GMT
Obesity is 'health timebomb' - MP
Fast food
Fat children is not just a cosmetic issue, says Stoate
Obesity in children is a health timebomb becoming as important as smoking was 20 years ago, according to a Labour MP.

Howard Stoate, who still practices as a GP, says the problems of fat children is not just cosmetic, it could mean many of children die before their parents.

Unless we do something fairly radical, large numbers of children will predecease their parents

Howard Stoate MP
A ban on food advertising during children's television, fresh efforts to encourage more exercise and a new food labelling system are among his proposals to tackle the problem.

Obesity in the UK has doubled over the last decade, with about one in 10 children now affected.

Shorter lives

Dr Stoate told BBC News Online: "Unless we do something fairly radical, large numbers of children will predecease their parents.

"It is not just a cosmetic issue, it is a major public health timebomb."

Dr Stoate, who is chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on primary care and public health, said some children could be losing nine years off their lives.
Howard Stoate
Howard Stoate: Need to start changing attitudes

Research suggested obese children were 27 times more likely to get diabetes and their chances of heart disease were doubled.

Some cancers have also been linked to obesity.

The Dartford MP complained children were being bombarded with one-sided adverts that promoted high-fat snacks as fun but offered no balance.

As well as a new advertising watershed, Dr Stoate wants a shake-up of the way foods are labelled and more national advice on nutrition.

Exercise drive

There needed to be a change in public attitudes towards obesity, he argued.

"There is still a view that there is a fat kid, they will grow of it," he said.

Among other measures he is proposing are changes in the school curriculum so exercise is an integral part of the school day.

Teenagers were doing so little exercise that two-thirds of teenage girls were now being classed as "inactive", he said.

Children on average were working off 700 fewer calories than they used to while eating more foods laden with fat and sugar.

Dr Stoate is also proposing closer links between schools and local sports clubs.

Changes in the tax and planning laws were also needed to make sure people have access to good quality foods in areas where shops are sparse, he argued.

Healthy portions

Dr Stoate said the government was aware of the problem and had now appointed a minister for public health, Hazel Blears.

But the issue did need to move up the Whitehall agenda.

As with smoking concerns, which have now provoked a tobacco advertising ban, changing public attitudes would take years, said Dr Stoate.

The government this month spelt out exactly how much fruit or vegetables people should eat to keep health.

Health experts recommend people eat five portions a day, but many do not know how big a portion is.

The Department of Health has now estimated a portion is around 80 grammes of fruit or veg.

See also:

17 Sep 02 | Health
12 Sep 02 | Health
03 Sep 02 | Health
23 May 02 | Health
21 Jan 03 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


 E-mail this story to a friend



© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes