Published: 19/09/2002, Volume II2, No. 5823 Page 18 19

The media had some weighty health issues to chew on this week.

On Tuesday, experts at the British Association science festival in Leicester warned that if something is not done to control the increasing girth of our nation's children, they will have a lower life expectancy than their parents as they develop heart disease, type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure early in life.

The Financial Times headlined its report 'Mankind at a 'key moment in human revolution'', while The Times ran with the much blunter 'Fat children 'may die before their parents''.

By Friday, media coverage of a European summit on obesity in Copenhagen was telling us that we are literally eating ourselves to death.

More than 65 per cent of the UK's men and 55 per cent of its women are either overweight or obese - and these figures, like those for childhood obesity, are on the increase.

The cause of our downfall is probably the unhealthy lives we lead with too much emphasis on high-fat junk food and too little on exercise.

But what to do about it?

The Daily Telegraph pointed out that telling children to eat their greens 'because they are good for you' is doomed to failure because children as young as five already regard 'healthier' foods as less tasty.

The Evening Standard added to the debate by highlighting a survey it had undertaken in July showing almost a third of London children are playing little or no competitive sport at school.

Sadly, the sporting life carries its own risks.

Research carried out by scientists at New York's Columbia University, and reported on BBC Online, have found that people with a form of motor neurone disease are significantly more likely to have been slim and athletic.

And while The Times was keen to carry news of GPs in Taunton writing prescriptions for a healthy round of NHS-subsidised golf, their medical correspondent claimed that the evidence had not been properly reviewed as golf is not statistically related to a longer life.

So, both the couch potato and the sportsman have been dealt a blow in health stories this week.

It seems that We are damned if we do and damned if we do not.