Irish teen boys are starving themselves to be thin because of obesity fears, it is claimed.
New research has found that up to one out of every five eight- to nine-year-old boys in the UK are currently counting their calories in an attempt to stave off the possibility of becoming overweight.
And young males in Ireland are following the trend by skipping meals and becoming obsessed with calorie counting.
The claims, which were made on Sky Real Life show Too Young To Diet, has highlighted a serious counter-problem to the widespread obesity epidemic fears in Ireland and the UK in recent years.
According to the programme, boys like nine-year-old Zach are waking up "thinking he was so fat that he began a regime of extreme exercise. Now everyday he works out on his trampoline, does press ups and abdominal crunches" -- a "fixation" the show says his mother is becoming increasingly worried about.
This is seemingly increasing across the UK, with the show claiming that boys as young as eight are starving themselves thin in an attempt to stave off fears of becoming obese.
And while leading Irish expert, DCU senior lecturer in exercise physiology Dr Niall Moynihan, has insisted the problem is not as apparent in Ireland, he told the Herald that similar problems in teenage years are becoming a more common occurrence.
"We don't have any evidence to suggest this is happening in children who are aged nine or under, but it is occurring in teenagers aged between 15 and 17," explained the expert
"It's in boys but particularly in girls, because they are much more weight conscious at that age.
"It's a generational thing, roughly 3-5pc of teenagers we see are underweight, whether that is from basic malnutrition or something else, but the problem is nowhere near as big as obesity in Irish society, which is a much much bigger problem.
"I've seen children as young as 11 or 12 who are so overweight they are already causing damage to their blood vessels, which is a definitive sign that they are on the road to cardiovascular problems in later years.
"It is the biggest killer in Ireland, but excessive weight gain and weight loss are related to the obesity issue today," he explained.