Obesity blamed on parents who overfeed children
Published 01/02/2010 | 05:00
OVERWEIGHT parents who simply feed their children too much at a young age are to largely blame for a childhood obesity crisis, a report will warn this week.
The study claims that the British government may be misguided in its policy of trying to tackle the problem through expensive projects aimed at persuading children in primary school to eat healthily and exercise more.
Instead, the report suggests, they should focus on educating new parents and parents-to-be to feed their children less before they start school. They must learn to reduce portion sizes. The findings show that daughters of overweight mothers are 10 times more likely to be obese by the time they reach the age of eight than a daughter born to a slim mother.
Sons of obese fathers are six times more likely to be overweight, according to the research from scientists working on the EarlyBird Diabetes Project in Plymouth.
Children of fat parents tended to be overfed and under-exercised, setting them on a path towards obesity, it found. The chief cause of weight gain, the report said, was "over-nutrition" of children by parents.
One of the report's co-authors, Professor Terry Wilkin, said the results showed "physical activity will help a child's fitness but not his or her fatness".
The report said: "We have found no evidence that physical inactivity precedes obesity, but good evidence that obesity precedes inactivity.''
More than 2.3 million children in Britain are estimated to be overweight or obese and many already show signs of high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and liver disease.
The British government has spent nearly £2bn(€2.5bn) over the past decade tackling obesity levels, with a large part of it being spent on encouraging children to lead healthier lives.
The report said: "The factors associated with obesity -- poor school meals, insufficient PE at school, too much screen watching -- appear to have little impact, at least at primary school age."