Poor diets 'making children overweight'

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The Independent Online
BRITISH children are becoming increasingly overweight and worsening their risk of heart disease, according to a long-term study, writes Celia Hall.

Walter Holland, Professor of Public Health Medicine at Guy's and St Thomas's hospitals medical school said yesterday that children, particularly girls, weighed more in 1990 than they did in 1972.

This was not a sign of improving nutrition and health, but an indication of poor diet.

Researchers have also found that the marked increase in children's height seen at the beginning of the study has 'slowed down very considerably'.

'Children are taller than they were 20 years ago but more obese and therefore at greater risk in the future of suffering from coronary heart disease, arthritis and diabetes,' Professor Holland said. 'We noticed increase in weight particularly in the group of low income, inner-city children.'

Professor Holland was speaking at a research day in London to mark the tenth anniversary of the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas's hospitals.

The study, funded by the Department of Health, measures and questions 10,000 children aged five to 11 every year and has been running for 20 years.

Children whose families came from the Indian subcontinent are the shortest, followed by white children from the lowest income groups. Children of Afro-Caribbean origins are the tallest - and least fat.

Professor Holland said that ethnicity and economic status were obvious influences.