I’ve recently been reading a lot about how we are breeding a nation of fatter and fatter children. Just looking around on a day out shopping you can see the evidence everywhere you look.

Having grown up in the 50’s and 60’s I suppose I had a big advantage over our youth today. Television was pretty dire in those days, that’s if you owned one. It certainly wasn’t tempting enough to get you back in the house very much to watch it. I don’t think our parents were as worried to let us play outside or in the local park, as they weren’t constantly bombarded with the horror stories of what happens on a daily basis to children outside the home.

The food portions were smaller, we very rarely ate out, couldn’t afford it. Even a packet of crisps was smaller in those days.

We certainly didn’t have home computers or Sony Playstations to sit at for hours on end.

What we did have was very vivid imaginations, we would turn into characters from Enid Blytons books and spend days climbing trees in the park of digging underground tunnels. I remember digging in our garden with my sisters when I was about 7 until we got down to the sewage pipes and were convinced we had found a world war 2 bomb (got into trouble for that one). We would form teams on the green outside our home and have cricket matches or rounders matches then bike races. Not to mention hours of playing hop scotch or hula hoop. Imagine jumping backwards and forwards on one leg for ages, (strengthens muscles and burns calories).

I think as parents and grand-parents, we need to try and get our children back to more physical activities, and developing their social skills.

There was a young girl on GMTV this morning who has been dubbed Britains fattest teenager. She said her weight gain has been a viscous cycle since she was very young. She started to put on weight as she came from an overweight family and that was her role model, the teasing and bullying started at an early age so she just got more and more isolated from people and turned to food for comfort.

What does this say about us as parents, that our children can be this cruel to another child. I think we have to take action now and stop this cycle before it’s too late.

I’ve struggled with weight gain since I turned 40 due to my metabolism (and myself) slowing down with age, but this is nothing compared to what these young people are facing now, they are reaching these gargantuan proportions.

I think nutritional education and more exercise should be part of the school curriculum. I think manufacturers should cut back on their portions and I think that safe after school play clubs should be available to everyone (no computers though). Also as parents we should severly limit television time and computer time. It may be tough love but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

Janet Dunmore: