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Monday, 16 January 2012

Obese Children Are Not The Enemy?

This was the title of a message from a "working think tank" which landed in my postbox this week. This is supposed to be promoting "Integrity and Dignity". What? Where does the enemy word come from?

At the same time I met an authoress and journalist, Tanith Carey who has written "Where Has My Little Girl Gone? How to protect your daughter from growing up too soon." We had a conversation about weight problems in children.

I have it on good authority from a very good friend that it's hard being the mother of an overweight child. Everyone will look at the parents and say;
"Why don't you put him on a diet" when some of us know that dieting only makes an overweight child fatter in the long run. Much fatter.
"Don't let them eat ice cream" - when all of their slim friends are eating ice cream and no-one gives a damn. Anyway, restricting food only makes it more desirable, so how do you get the balance right?

"Make them do more exercise" when you take them swimming and they just want to waft like basking dolphins in the shallow end or play around like the other children.
"Give them healthy lunchboxes" when they ALSO go into the cafeterias at school and swap carrots for chips with their friends.
"Switch off the TV" when their self esteem is shaky anyhow and they want to be tweeting and Facebooking or following East Enders like all their other friends.

"Help your child to grow out of their weight problem by keeping their weight steady as they grow". Easier said than done, anyway do you want to be weighing the child every week and controlling everything they eat and do?

Some parents are lazy and some are thwarted by the culture at large and some are ignorant. My friend whose authority I lean on, knows everything there is to know about healthy eating and activity, and lives in a healthy environment and his very fat child loves fruit and vegetables. 

Working with an overweight child is a very, very complex task. Parents need help because they can feel like a bad parent if they have a fat child. The parent needs help and support to deal with their shame.

Experts have to stop talking in generalisations about what to do. Some children have a much  harder job than other children managing their weight and the situation is going to become worse before it gets better, if at all. If a parent is worried about their child's weight problem they need personal advice and sometimes that advice may be to do very little for the moment.

Food for thought.

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