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08 October 2015 09:47
Concerns continue to grow over childhood obesity
Postman Pat, the Tweenies and the characters of Balamory could be recruited to help the nation fight obesity by introducing young TV viewers to healthy eating messages.
That is the view of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who also believes the problem should be targeted through the Government's Troubled Families programme.
Childhood obesity can cause future medical problems - something that holidaymakers can address with a medical travel insurance policy - and it can have an impact on youngsters' self-esteem.
During a fringe event at the Conservative Party's autumn conference in Manchester, Mr Hunt was asked if he thought more pressure could be put on public service broadcasters by the Government to help with social change.
He said as the father of a three-year-old daughter who is "sugar crazy", he would love to see CBeebies - the BBC's channel aimed at children aged six and under - telling viewers that "chips are bad".
He admitted doing so could result in the channel losing some of its viewers and acknowledged it is a difficult question for public broadcasters to address.
But Mr Hunt said he hoped the BBC would still play its part by helping to raise people's awareness of issues such as obesity and healthy eating.
He said that while not telling people how to live their lives was at the core of Conservative values, protecting children remains vital.
The Health Secretary said tackling childhood obesity could benefit from the Government being a bit more draconian.
He branded the fact that one in 10 children aged between seven and 11 are clinically obese as a "national disgrace" and said the Government could do more to help parents and schools tackle the issue.
Mr Hunt said that while there was a link between social class and obesity, that could be addressed through the Troubled Families scheme.
This Government programme works to help around 300,000 of the UK's most underprivileged families with long-term issues such as joblessness, crime, anti-social behaviour and truancy.
One in four (23%) UK adults are now said to be obese, a proportion that experts forecast will rise to one in three by the end of this decade.
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