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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Scots children join heart study
children eating
Obesity is a growing problem among Scottish children
Children are to be encouraged to be more active as part of a new scheme designed to nip heart disease in the bud.

A three-year British Heart Foundation study, which will involve 400 children from nurseries and pre-school centres, is being piloted in Glasgow.

The rate of coronary heart disease in the UK is highest in Glasgow and Belfast and researchers decided to choose the Scottish city for the pilot.

Children playing
Children will be given an exercise plan
The youngsters will be given an exercise programme and monitored to see how it affects their weight, blood pressure and amount of body fat.

The 166,000 project is being co-ordinated by Glasgow University, Yorkhill NHS Trust and the city council.

Dr John Reilly, lead researcher at Yorkhill's Department of Human Nutrition, said: "There is an increasing belief that the promotion of physical activity should begin at an early age.

"Up until now research studies have not been large enough, or over a long enough time scale, to test how effective education strategies can be.

Obesity problem

Dr Reilly said heart disease was a disease of the blood vessels around the heart and the coronary arteries.

"It begins with lesions on those blood vessels and very alarmingly, recent studies show that these lesions were present in children and adolescents - and in children as young as three and four."

Recent research by the BHF found that only half of 11 to 16-year-olds walk for up to 10 minutes a day.

The number of obese six-year-olds has doubled in the last 10 years, while the number of obese 15-year-olds has trebled.

Dr John Reilly
Dr John Reilly: Alarming findings

Only Ireland and Finland have worse records on heart disease among developed countries and the condition is estimated to cost the British economy millions of pounds every year.

Tom McQuade of the British Heart Foundation said children should be encouraged to take part in games to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

"When I was at school, you didn't have television or computers. So therefore you went outside and you played," Mr McQuade said.

"Now I accept that it is not easy to go out and play in the street in the same way that I could have done in my teens, but there are games that can be played that do not involve sitting in front of a television."

BBC Scotland's Eleanor Bradford reports
"Research suggests that the number of obese six year olds has doubled in the past 10 years"
Dr John Reilly
"Children are spending a lot more time watching TV and videos"
See also:

22 Apr 02 | Health
Why children need exercise
01 Feb 02 | Health
Heart disease deaths plummet
22 Nov 01 | Scotland
Scots fight shy of exercise
26 Oct 01 | Scotland
Scots told to battle the bulge
05 Jan 01 | Health
Childhood obesity soars in UK
22 Feb 00 | Scotland
Defusing Scotland's 'timebomb'
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