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Childrens health

Child obesity almost doubles in a decade

News that the number of obese children aged 11 to 15 has nearly doubled in a decade has been described as a ‘public health time bomb’.

New government figures show that levels of obesity among all children is still on the rise, with around one in four 11 to 15-year-olds now considered obese.

Between 1995 and 2004, the number of obese children in that age group increased from 14 per cent to 24 per cent for boys and from 15 per cent to 26 per cent for girls.

Among children aged two to 10, the number of obese boys went up from 10 per cent in 1995 to 16 per cent in 2004 for boys, while there was a one per cent increase in the number of girls to 11 per cent in 2004.

Around 2,000 children aged two to 15 took part in the annual Health Survey for England 2004, which involved interviews, weighing them and taking height measurements.

One in four adults obese

The survey also showed that one in four adults in England is now considered obese, with the number of obese men almost doubling since 1995.

Professor Colin Waine, Chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said the figures revealed a ‘public health time bomb’.

He added: ‘This is serious news because obesity in adolescence is associated with the premature onset of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It really augurs very badly for the future health of the population as these children move from adolescence to adulthood.

‘This will have a significant impact on longevity and we are in danger of raising a generation of people who have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.’

Responsible marketing

Which? wants a complete ban on junk food ads during the hours that children are watching TV.

Which? Food Campaign Team Leader Miranda Watson said: ‘These latest statistics show just how important it is to have responsible marketing of food to children. It’s high time the food and marketing industries acknowledged the role they play in the problem of childhood obesity. Irresponsible marketing of foods high in fat, sugar and salt to children has to stop.’

Our Childcatchers report (see related links below) exposes how marketing companies use mobile phones and the internet to bombard youngsters with junk food adverts behind parents’ backs.

Which? is calling on parents to help stop irresponsible marketing by joining our campaign (see below) and telling us their views and experiences via our website.

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