The obesity sections in this week's public health White Paper may not find a very receptive audience if a recent British Heart Foundation survey is any guide.
The survey of 500 parents and twice as many children aged 7-16 suggested that only 25% of young people take an hour of exercise a day. Even more worryingly, only one if five parents were bothered about this shortfall.
Almost half of the parents said they believed they did more exercise as a child than their own kids do now and 80% felt they should be responsible for ensuring their kids get enough exercise. They simply weren't doing it.
Dr David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum, told the BBC: 'I'm staggered by the statistics. Activity is essential. It's protection not just against obesity but protection against heart disease and cancers in later life. The problem is partly one of motivation and partly one of education. These four out of five mothers and fathers do not love little Jonnie any less than the one out of five. It's just they are not aware of the trouble they are causing for their child by not ensuring an active lifestyle.'
More than 22 million children under five years old are obese or overweight, say the World Health Organization. Among those aged six to 15, obesity rates trebled from 5% to 16% between 1990 and 2001. If current trends continue, experts believe at least a third of adults will be obese by 2020.
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