Children as young as ten are increasingly taking diet pills to help them lose weight, it was claimed today.
The team behind fat binding supplement Proactol claimed they are seeing increasing demand from customers wanting to purchase the product for their children.
Britain has the highest childhood obesity rate in Europe with more than a quarter of 2 – 15 year olds being classed as overweight according to research.
Now it seems an increasing number of parents are shunning exercise and turning to dietary supplements to help their offspring shed their excess pounds.
Proactol, one of the UK’s leading fat binding products, is safe for youngsters aged 12 and over being 100 per cent organic. It combines with dietary fat in the stomach and helps prevent absorption and storage of fatty deposits in the body.
It is sold mainly online and through a telephone sales system – meaning customers must have a bank account or credit card to purchase.
Proactol’s marketing manager Katie Downing Howitt said the company had noticed an increasing number of parents were attempting to place orders for their children.
She said: “Proactol is an ethical company and we do not recommend our product for children. Our customer service team actively encourage selling the product to over 18s only. When people mention that they are buying the product for their children we refuse to process their orders.
“Proactol has been tested as safe for over 12s but we recommend that only those aged 18 and above take it. We definitely do not encourage children to take it.
“As our customers need a credit card to purchase the product they have to be at least 18. We know from our market research that more than 12% of those who take Proactol are under the age of 20.
“We are hearing anecdotally from our sales team that an increasing number of parents are coming on the phones wanting to buy Proactol for their children. We have had one mother who wanted to buy the product for her ten year old daughter. We refused her request but it is difficult to know how much of an isolated case that is.
“We would urge all parents to encourage their children to eat a healthy balanced diet and take plenty of exercise before turning to a fat binder such as Proactol.”
Britain’s obesity time bomb is one of the biggest problems facing the NHS in the coming decades.
Obesity increases the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes which is normally a disease seen in later life in adults. However, increasingly children in their teens are presenting with type 2 diabetes as a consequence of being obese. There are also marked psychological effects leading to low self-esteem.
In the UK, around two millions youngsters - 27 per cent of all children - are now overweight and 700,000 of these are classed as obese. Research suggests the main problem is a continual reduction in the amount of exercise children take along with other factors such as poor diets.
The problem is more pronounced in girls than boys – 25% of girls are overweight compared with 20% of boys.
High-calorie foods such as chocolates, sweets and fast food are cheap and readily available to children. Alongside this, physical activity and exercise are no longer a part of most children's days - some children never walk or cycle to school. Many of them spend hours in front of a television or computer rather than playing sport outside of school.
Children with overweight parents are much more likely to become overweight than the offspring of skinny mums and dads.
According to a recent report by the International Obesity Task Force, there are already over 4,000 British children with Type 2 diabetes symptoms. 58,000 have bad glucose tolerance.
The report stated: “With fewer and fewer playing fields in the UK, in comparison to ten or twenty years ago, British children are becoming less physically active at school. Add to this the change in eating habits among young children, and the reasons for this growing childhood obesity problem becomes evident. British children are eating more and more of the wrong foods and doing less and less exercise. The number of hours children spend either watching TV or sitting in front of some kind of screen at home has increased.”