Warning to parents as shock stats reveal 1 in 7 HEALTHY kids on a diet

ONE in four kids is now dieting to lose weight, scientists say – and the number of healthy children trying to slim down is surging.

Rising numbers of schoolchildren are trying to shed the pounds as obesity increases faster than ever.


Experts are worried healthy teenagers will risk their health trying to get super-slimCredit: PA

A study of 34,000 youngsters between 1997 and 2016 found the number trying to lose weight rose from 22 per cent to 27 per cent, driven by a surge in boys.

Two thirds of obese and overweight children are trying to fight their flab.

But body image woes mean one in seven healthy kids are trying to get thinner, too.

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “It’s great that children are starting to take their weight seriously and parents are becoming more savvy about the dangers of being overweight.

“The problem with adults is we don’t learn new tricks easily, so it’s important to get messages about healthy eating and exercise to young children.

“But I am concerned that healthy children are trying to lose weight because we know the rise of eating disorders is significant.

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“We have to factor in how they are influenced. You never see a fat boy on Love Island – they are all beautifully toned.

“We’re heading the right way but everything must be done to stop children who are a healthy weight from getting fixated and developing serious problems.”

NHS clinics for eating disorders saw a record 10,000 young people start therapy last year.

But childhood obesity is also rising fast, with a third of kids overweight and one in seven already obese when they start school.

The Oxford study, revealed in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, said NHS services cannot keep up with demand.

Yearly data for eight to 17-year-old children saw weight loss attempts shoot up in the 2000s and 2010s.

A third of those aged 13 to 17 were trying to slim down by 2016, the data found.

The proportion of obese children trying to shift their belly rose from 33 per cent to 63 per cent.

For overweight kids it increased from 9 per cent to 39 per cent and for healthy weight youngsters from 5 per cent to 14 per cent.

Study author Dr Aryati Ahmad, from Oxford University, said: “The rise in efforts to lose weight among overweight or obese children may imply success in communicating the importance of weight control.

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“But the rise in weight loss attempts among children with a healthy weight raises concerns.

“Policies to tackle obesity in young people need to be sensitive to reduce the risk of encouraging inappropriate weight loss.”

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