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BBC Scotland's Leslie Anderson reports
"Many parents are putting pressure on their daughters at such an early age they become pre-occupied with their weight"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Obesity threat to child health
Chips
Children often prefer convenience food
Obesity has overtaken asthma as the biggest threat to children's health in Scotland, according to experts at an international conference.

A nutrition conference hosted by Glasgow University has been hearing that children as young as five are defying their parents and eating too much junk food.

Delegates were also told that obesity amongst children in Scotland is mainly due to lack of exercise.

Experts from the UK and USA are in Glasgow for the two-day conference.

Dr John Reilly
Dr Reilly: "Obesity epidemic"
A study by American researchers has found that many parents are putting pressure on their daughters at such an early age that they develop unhealthy pre-occupations with their weight by the time they start school.

The conference heard that a study of five to nine year olds found that girls whose parents stopped them eating junk or snack foods were at much greater risk of suffering weight and eating problems as they grew up.

Professor Leann Birch, a child nutritionist from Pennsylvania State University in the USA, said: ""Basically, parents restrict kids' access and it makes kids want those foods even more.

"When parents aren't around to restrict those foods, kids tend to eat more of them, be more interested in getting hold of them."

Dr John Reilly of Glasgow University said: "The major driving force behind the recent obesity epidemic has actually been reduced physical activity.

"The key to preventing the problem seems to be addressing that issue and trying to get children to become more active."

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See also:

01 Jun 00 | Health
Children 'eating themselves ill'
27 Apr 00 | Health
Parents fear for children's diet
14 Dec 98 | Health
The young risk their health
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