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It’s a good old chicken and egg scenario – does slobbing around all day playing computer games make kids fat, or are fat kids just less likely to want to run around an athletics field in every waking minute of their spare time?

As a ultra skinny kid who absolutely detested games or exercise of any kind (come to think of it, I often have to be forced to do them even now – though I’m afraid to say I’m hardly ultra skinny these days), I was delighted to read today’s news about the researchers who say no, it’s not lack of exercise that makes children put on weight – it’s getting fat that makes them not want to do any exercise.

Now that’s going to throw a heretical cat among the child obesity expert pigeons, isn’t it?

The research analysed information from the EarlyBird Diabetes Study, which is based at the Peninsula Medicine School in Plymouth and which has followed more than 200 school children for the past 11 years. The results, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, contradict what experts have been saying for ages – that is, that lack of exercise makes children put on weight. Uh huh, not according to the EarlyBirds, who say exercise isn’t the answer, but early eating habits probably are. So sticking to proper portion sizes, avoiding calorie-dense snacks (come on, you know what they are) and sugary drinks, all of these things are essential if you don’t want your little one to end up lardy.

Another thing that leads to childhood obesity, the report’s authors say, is when that child’s mother (if she’s a girl) or father (if he’s a boy) is also obese. So again, forget going on at them for watching too much TV or staring for too long at their Nintendos, and – if you need to lose a few pounds yourself, that is – get off your own butt and set them a good example.

The study also suggests that fat kids may not get involved in sports and other activities because they have a negative view of their bodies – yes, of course they do. Who doesn’t remember the fat kid in their class and their horror at having to wear PE kit and do things their chubby little bodies just weren’t capable of doing? My heart bleeds.

Well I don’t have the answer to the childhood obesity problem – if I did, I would be the one doing the research, not writing about it. But it’s good to see conventional views challenged every once in a while. I mean, things aren’t quite so black and white after all, especially where health is concerned, are they?