CHILDREN who have televisions in their bedroom and only occasionally eat breakfast have the highest rates of obesity at age 10, according to a new study.

However, the researchers did not find any "significant" links between obesity and how often children snacked on unhealthy foods, or how much exercise they did.

The findings are based on representative sample of 14,000 youngsters in Scotland who are being monitored as part of the 'Growing Up in Scotland' project.

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It found that obesity rates nearly doubled during early primary school, from 11% of six-year-olds to 19% of children aged 10.

Ten-year-olds with a television in their bedroom were more likely to be overweight or obese than those without - 38% compared with 26%.

In the same age group, 44% of children who said they "occasionally" ate breakfast were overweight - including obese - compared to 31% of youngsters who said they always at breakfast.

The researchers stressed that both factors correlated with strongly with the children's socioeconomic background, with children from lower income households more likely to exceed 14 hours of screen time per week and miss out on breakfast.

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Children were asked how often they ate sweets or chocolates, crisps, and drank sugary drinks, but the researchers found that the frequency of unhealthy snacking "was not statistically significantly associated with overweight/obesity at age 10".

They suggested this was because the questions did not account for portion sizes or the nutritional content of main meals.

The researchers also compared weekly levels of physical activity and participation in sport, based on answers given by mothers when the children were aged six.

They found that "level of physical activity at age six was not associated with overweight or obesity at age 10".

However, they also noted that "a home environment which facilitates higher levels of inactivity" was more closely linked to obesity in older children.

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Professor Steve Turner, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the report underlined the case for stricter advertising rule.

He said: "As this report identifies, children are more likely to be overweight if they have a television in their room and if they spend more time looking at screens.

"We know marketing makes children more likely to purchase the brands they see advertised and consume more of them.”