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Overweight Kids Need to Be Told They Are Fat

Posted: 14/10/2013 01:30

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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  • 17 Percent Of Children And Adolescents Are Obese

    According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/childhood-obesity-linked-health-problems_n_2497054.html" target="_blank">17% (or 12.5 million) of kids and adolescents aged 2 - 19</a> years in the United States are now obese.

  • Obesity Rates Among Kids Ages 2-5 Have Doubled In 30 Years

    <a href="http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/Let_s_Move_Child_Care_Fact_Sheet.pdf" target="_blank">The rate</a> among this age group <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_child_07_08/obesity_child_07_08.htm" target="_blank">increased</a> from 5% to 10.4% in 1976-1980 and 2007-2008.

  • One In Five Kids Is Overweight By Age 6

    <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm" target="_blank">Obese kids are more likely to also be obese as adults</a>, which <a href="http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/Let_s_Move_Child_Care_Fact_Sheet.pdf" target="_blank">puts them at risk</a> for heart disease, diabetes, and more adult health problems.

  • Over Half Of Obese Children First Become Overweight By Age 2

    These kids are even <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm" target="_blank">more likely</a> to <a href="http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/Let_s_Move_Child_Care_Fact_Sheet.pdf" target="_blank">become obese adults</a>.

  • The Childhood Obesity Rate Has Almost Tripled Since 1980

    <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_child_07_08/obesity_child_07_08.htm" target="_blank">CDC data</a> shows that there was an increase in the pervasiveness of obesity in the American population between 1976-1980 and then again from 1999-2000, the prevalence of obesity increased.

  • One In Seven Low-Income Preschoolers Is Obese

    Obesity in <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2009/r090723.htm" target="_blank">low-income 2- to 4-year-olds</a> rose from 12.4% of the population in 1998 to 14.5% in 2003 but increased to 14.6% in 2008.

  • Less Than Half Of Preschoolers Consume Two Daily Servings Of Fruit

    And only 25% of kids in this age group get the recommended three daily serving of vegetables. One way to make sure your child gets the <a href="http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/Let_s_Move_Child_Care_Fact_Sheet.pdf" target="_blank">amount of fruit and vegetables that they need</a> is to serve them at every meal.

  • One-Third Of High School Students Get The Recommended Amount Of Exercise

    <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/physicalactivity/facts.htm" target="_blank">In 2011, only 29% of high-schoolers</a> in a survey participated in 60 minutes of physical activity each day, which is the amount recommended by the CDC. <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/children.html" target="_blank">It’s best for kids to get three different types of exercise</a>: aerobic activity, like walking or running, muscle strengthening activities like push-ups or pull-ups and bone strengthening activities like jumping rope.

  • Childhood Obesity Is Linked To A Wide Range Of Health Problems

    High blood pressure, diabetes and other cardiovascular issues have been previously tied to obesity. But <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/childhood-obesity-linked-health-problems_n_2497054.html?utm_hp_ref=childhood-obesity" target="_blank">a 2013 study</a> found that obesity also puts kids at risk for other health issues such as ADHD, allergies and ear infections.

  • The Food Industry Spends Over $1.6 Billion To Market To Kids Each Year

    This<a href="http://www.ftc.gov/os/2008/07/P064504foodmktingreport.pdf" target="_blank"> number was documented by the FTC in 2008</a>.<a href="http://www.apa.org/topics/kids-media/food.aspx" target="_blank"> According to the APA</a>, there are strong associations between the increase in junk food advertising to kids and the climbing rate of childhood obesity.

 

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