Toddlers eat less but get fatter on a diet of TV

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BRITAIN'S TODDLERS are getting fatter - even though they are eating less - because of their couch-potato lifestyle before starting school, scientists have found.

BRITAIN'S TODDLERS are getting fatter - even though they are eating less - because of their couch-potato lifestyle before starting school, scientists have found.

More than one in five children are overweight or obese before the age of three, according to new research. It is the first hard evidence of the growing obesity problem among pre-schoolers. Experts believe that watching too much television and playing with computerised toys has replaced children's naturally active behaviour with a sedentary lifestyle.

"Children have been eating less, but are watching more TV - which includes watching videos, Playstations or PC screens," said John Reilly, physiologist in human nutrition at Glasgow University and co-author of the study.

He added: "They are replacing natural active behaviour with inactive behaviour like watching TV."

The researchers from Bristol and Glasgow universities examined 1,000 children born in Bristol in 1991 and 1992. They found that 16 per cent were overweight at the age of two. But at the age of four the proportion rose to 20 per cent, falling slightly to 19 per cent at age five.

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