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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Health role model plea to parents
Woman at fruit stall
Adults' healthy eating habits can influence their children
Parents in Scotland have been urged to live healthier lifestyles in an attempt to reduce obesity among children.

It follows research into family eating habits by the health charity Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP).

DPP found that 72% of children said they would eat a healthier diet if their parents did. About one-third of children in Scotland are overweight.

The survey covered the attitudes of more than 100 school-age children and their parents.

Nearly three-quarters of parents admitted struggling to motivate their children to eat a healthy diet. Many blamed advertising and marketing of unhealthy snacks and fizzy drinks.

Simple changes can often make the biggest difference
Dr Mary Church
BMA Scotland

The DPP and the National Obesity Forum (NOF) have launched the Get Sussed, Get Healthy Family Challenge initiative.

Dr Mary Church, joint chairman of the BMA's Scottish general practitioners committee, said: "One in three Scots youngsters is overweight, therefore campaigns like this are vital to reinforce the message that it is important to improve the health of our children.

"While the survey identifies the role of schools in educating children on how to be healthy, it clearly illustrates that we, as parents, play a huge role in influencing our children's behaviour.

Children running
An early start helps healthy living, says health experts
"Teaching children at an early age about the advantages of a healthy lifestyle often means that they continue this into adulthood. Simple changes can often make the biggest difference."

The survey also revealed that other influential adults can play a role in encouraging children to eat more healthily.

Just under half of those surveyed said they would be more likely to eat healthily and take part in sports or exercise if celebrities such as David Beckham or Beyoncé Knowles encouraged them to do it.

Dr Ian Campbell, of the NOF, said the new campaign was "an important step in the right direction".

He added: "This kind of support is crucial for parents if we are to see a reduction in the escalating rates of obesity.

"Parents, schools, health professionals, the media, food manufacturers and the government, all have an important role to play in reducing the risk to children's lives from obesity."

Advertising ban

The Scottish National Party called for a ban on the advertising of unhealthy drinks and foods in light of the report's findings.

The party's health spokeswoman, Shona Robison, said: "Children are constantly bombarded with adverts for fizzy drinks and unhealthy snacks which then creates one of the main problems for parents - pester power.

"That is why the SNP is proposing a ban on advertising of unhealthy food and drink to children and the removal of fizzy drinks machines from schools.

"However, we also need to educate adults to the benefits of eating healthy food which help to set a good example to their children."

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