Childhood obesity smallResearchers have suggested that the UK is breeding a generation of children with weight problems after identifying that the number of 5-19 year-olds treated for obesity-related illnesses increased by nearly 3,000 since the turn of the century

The fourfold increase in those undergoing surgery or pregnancy complications, from 872 in 2000 to 3,800 in 2009 is creating a "ticking timebomb" accrding to Imperial College London's Dr Sonia Saxena.

Childhood burden of obesity
"The burden of obesity is begining to manifest itself in childhood," Dr Saxena said. "This is the first study to suggest that the complications of being overwright are occurring at a younger and younger age."

Dr Saxena's team looked at data for the number of NHS hospital admissions over the 00s and found 20,885 young people were treated for obesity-related problems during that period.

A quarter of these were treated for being dangerously overweight with the rest suffering from conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

'Appaling' rise in childhood obesity
Nearly 200 teenage girls were admitted with pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. Reacting to the findings, JFHC writer and Child Growth Foundation chairman Tam Fry said: "To have a quadrupling within so few years is appaling.

"But I won't be surprised if in five year we're talking about another significant rise. This whole [obesity crisis] has been allowed to escalate without concerted action being taken and we are now seeing the terrible consequences."