As reported in the Guardian recently, the International Obesity TaskForce stated "Youngsters should be protected from exploitative marketing techniques used on the internet as well as from television advertising as part of an all out bid to halt the rise in childhood obesity".

Today (12 Sept 2006) on BBC R4's Today Programme , Professor Susan Greenfield and author Michael Morpurgo discussed "The cocktail of modern culture that's making our children miserable" - the influences of "modern life" (my quotes) on the development of children's brains. Included were some pros and cons of fantasy PC games: do they stimulate imagination, or stultify it by providing on-screen images or icons for situations that would really have to be imagined if read from a book or related at Mother's knee. We now know that some such games, text messaging etc are being used by the food industry to sell junk food directly to children, probably without the understanding of their parents or other controls.

Talking of knees, the speakers also emphasised the value of going out and grazing them in real play as well, developing the social and motor skills emphasised by another charity with whom I have been long associated, Hackney's Albion Kids Show.

A recent Tony Blair initiative to supervise and control children at an earlier and earlier age is hoped to prevent antisocial behaviour. I suspect that the McCarrison Society for Nutrition and Health and the Mother And Child Foundation (www.motherandchildfoundation.org) would seek to go still further back in time, to improve the nutrition and education of all mothers, from all continents and social classes, well before conception as well as the early nutrition and continuing education of the child.

It is time that all these and other groups and bodies should collaborate and join together all these streams of scientific fact, argument and opinion so that the public are not fed with confrontational news stories along the lines of "last year all fats, meat and milk were bad for you, now many are good?" or "[poverty], [dogma], [diet], [discipline], (choose only one) is what we have to fix first". Meanwhile this Confederation must be Poachers turned Gamkeepers (!) and gain the skills and funds to use the methods of business communication to redress the balance of information fed to us and our children.

Trevor Bennett, Webmaster, The McCarrison Society

PS It is worth noting that if I enter just mc in the Browser address bar, hoping to find the previous occurrence of www.mccarrisonsociety.org.uk, and press enter, I get http://www.mcdonalds.com/ - presumably another Scottish nutrition pioneer?

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