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Overweight Kids Need to Be Told They Are Fat

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One in 10 children now starts school classified as very overweight or obese. We are not allowed to tell the parents of these four-to-five-year-olds in case it upsets them.

I believe it is time for a few tears and tantrums. Hard news hurts.

If you have fed your child into obesity - you are failing your child. If you think not talking about it will make it go away - you are wrong. You need to get your head out of the sand and your kid's head out of the food cupboard.

Many worry they will hurt a child's feelings. Playground bullies are not so sensitive. Helping out on school swim trips, I have seen oversized children reduced to tears, unable to haul their body weight out of the water, taunted by their peers.

Fat kids grow up in the shadow of a fat parent. In Scotland, obese kids are more than twice as likely to have an overweight parent. This is a destructive cycle, eight out of 10 overweight teens grow up to be obese adults.

A local health visitor was telling me about the type of education she is giving out to these families visiting mums at home. "I have to teach them why it is not okay to put KFC in the blender for the baby, why blended Chinese take away is not a suitable solid food".

For others, the problem is one of endless choice. The modern mum treats her child like a guest in a restaurant; offering a drop down menu of choices, catering around preferences - often narrowing to the point where the child only eats crisps, chips or pasta.

As a mother of three under nine, one of my favourite sayings is "we don't do fussy". My children have the choice of one meal. If they decide not to eat it clearly they are not hungry. The French are masters at this, and have one of the lowest obesity rates in the OECD as a result.

Set against a backdrop of a world where people are getting bigger, the National Child Measurement Program (NCMP) says many mums simply do not realise their child is overweight. I would suggest the 6% that opt out of the tests are acutely aware of the monsters they create.

Instead of acting on this ignorance, we are recalibrating 'normal'; changing school uniforms into plus size versions. The M&S 'Angel' range for 12-16 year olds is equivalent to adult size 14-16. Forbes magazine states plus size is 'the new cash crop for retailers'.

We change letters from the NCMP so that the word 'obese' now reads as 'overweight', we change portions so that yesterday's supersize becomes tomorrow's regular, chocolate bars now sold as a 'duo' pack where one used to suffice. Plus size store models reflect back a new reality where everything bigger.

It is time to try to save normal.

To move towards a solution, parents need to be told a few hard truths. You are accountable, you are culpable, and you have made your child fat.

Katie will be chatting about this issue on ITV's This Morning on Monday 14 October.

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