Joining the increasingly strident chorus against junk foods, a British expert warned that children could be eating their way to death and called for a fat tax on such food items.
Dr Tim Lobstein, Director of the Childhood Obesity Programme at the International Association for the Study of Obesity, aid a couch potato lifestyle and a growing appetite for junk food meant today's youngsters ran a real risk of being the first generation to die at an earlier age than their parents.
AdvertisementHigh cholesterol, blood pressure and liver disease were rearing their heads even in primary schools, he noted.
Some 91,000 have high cholesterol, 60,000 have high blood pressure and 91,000 have liver disease before even reaching the age of 12, his calculations show.
Few children will realise they even have the conditions that, while symptomless, raise the odds of deadly heart disease, strokes and cirrhosis in later life.
And tens of thousands of primary school children have blood sugar and insulin problems linked to diabetes, the European Congress on Obesity heard.
Across Britain's ten million five to 18-year-olds as a whole, 2.3million are overweight or obese, meaning Britain accounts for one- seventh of the European overweight and obese tally of 16million.
Dr Lobstein, , said: 'Britain is near the top of the league of child obesity.
'Our kids are eating themselves into an early grave.'
'Our kids have been swamped with adverts for junk food. A pizza used to be a treat when I was a child; it is now pretty common.
'The amount of fat and sugar in foods has increased in the last 20 years, we neglected school meals until the last five years, soft drink sales have never been higher, confectionary sales have rocketed.
'TV-watching is big and if you add computer games, videos and other sedentary media, exercise levels have fallen.
'Cycling as a rule is hazardous in the UK, particularly for kids. I used to cycle to school but hardly anybody does now. If we are to spend a lot of money investing in the future, then the future is our kids. There would be no better way of investing than in bike lanes and safe play areas.
'I would suggest a fiscal policy. I'm in favour of a 'fat tax.'
'VAT can be altered so that it focuses on the fatty, sugary foods and encourages more fruit and vegetable consumption.
'The wave of obesity is moving forwards and it will be tragic if it is not tackled.'
The Department of Health said it had no plans to introduce a 'fat tax' but was working with the food and drink industry to reduce saturated fat and sugar levels, as well as portion sizes, and encourage healthy alternatives, Daily Mail reported.