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16/03/2009

Lifestyle of teens and children can prevent cancers

Most parents don't know how much their children's lifestyle help them in later life...


Half do not know that a lack of exercise can contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes and one in five parents, 18 per cent, do not know not know that it could increase the risk of heart disease.

The research questioned more than 800 parents who had children aged up to the age of 11.

The survey was carried out for the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK.

It also reveals that few parents know of the importance of their children eating a healthy diet.

Almost six in 10 parents were unaware of the link between poor eating habits and cancer, while almost a quarter, 23 per cent, did not think that obesity was linked to Type 2 diabetes
Two-thirds of parents, 66 per cent, also did not know that being overweight in childhood could be a risk factor for cancer in later life.

Douglas Smallwood, chief executive of Diabetes UK and spokesperson on behalf of the partnership, said: "This lack of awareness among parents is frightening. Even if children look healthy or are not overweight now, parents need to be aware that if their children are not active or eating a healthy diet, they may grow up to be overweight or obese. And that would put them at a greater risk of developing certain cancers, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease in adulhood.

"We are supporting the Change4Life campaign, which aims to encourage parents to get their children moving more and eating well. However, if the Government is to deliver on its public health promises it has a major role to play in committing to legislation on restricting junk food advertising and supporting the traffic light system of food labelling, which will go a long way in helping people make informed choices."

Betty McBride, from the British Heart Foundation said: "We all want our children to grow up to be fit and healthy, so parents need to understand that the seeds of their child's health problems in adulthood can be planted in the childhood.

"A poor diet and inactive lifestyle today can have a dire consequence in the future. Parents need to avoid giving their children unhealthy foods whenever possible and encouraging them to get outside, play, and be more active.

"The number of children who are overweight and obese is rising. We will not reverse this trend unless parents wake up to the dangers."

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