Child Obesity: Why is no one
blaming television?
Why spend money to promote exercise if the license fee is busy doing the opposite?
by David Burke

A third of British adults and a fifth of all children will be obese by 2010 according to figures released by the Department of Health. See the Guardian story here. This news has the government rushing spokesmen out to reassure the public that something will be done. Perhaps companies selling sugary drinks in schools will be asked to promote exercise around the buildings that have been built on what used to be school playgrounds.

But no one blames television - not the government, not the schools, not even the columnists who are demanding action.

There are many causes of child obesity, but television lays on the couch right in the centre of them. From snack food advertising aimed at children, to the sad modern phenomenon of parents who don't let their children play outside and give them TV sets in their rooms as a booby prize, television is the elephant in the corner.

White Dot asks leaders and leader writers to do the right thing and call for parents to cut children's viewing. We're not suggesting they watch "better television" or "television with positive messages". We're asking parents to do some parenting and for government to support them.

Turn that thing off and go outside!

Today more than ever parents need to pass on the skills of being active, how to face up to boredom or loneliness and go looking for real life. But the entire business model of television is based on keeping kids in, sitting around, watching a screen. The average viewing time for children in Britain is approaching four hours a day - half the time they're not sleeping or in school. No wonder they're fat!

Children are naturally active. It is parents who keep them indoors and teach them the sitting and staring habit. Let's be honest about what is causing child obesity, before those habits harden into a lifelong addiction.