Ha! Bet that stirred your inner Mother Hen into defending her little piglets.
The NHS scheme is expected to roll out over the UK in the next few months in a bid to tackle obesity; as many as a fifth of children are obese by the time they are 11.
We can devise two obvious statements from these proposals by doctors at University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital;
But whilst this is a genuinely honest attempt at providing a solution to a problem, it takes no account of the cause of the problem, which, in most cases, yields much better results.
Take our Grandparents, the wartime kids. Not many fat kids running about then. Even when rationing ended, diets were what some people these days would call very ‘unhealthy’ by some – bread & dripping, fatty, cheap cuts of meat, and comfort puddings of sponge and custard were the norm. So why did no one get fat?
They ate because they were hungry. They ate what was available, and what they could afford (food is, relatively speaking, ridiculously cheap and easy to come by these days). Fathers had manual jobs whilst Mothers took care of the home. Children played in the street. Women’s magazines give tips on sewing your own blouse not maple syrup and cayenne detoxes.
Parents wanted kids to get a good run around and some fresh air because they knew (rightly so) that it led to better behaved children because they weren’t cooped up indoors all day, because they slept well at night, got ill less frequently, and made friends while out playing. Rarely did anyone go on a diet, because rarely did anyone need to. Family meals were a nightly, not monthly occurrence.
Another ironic outcome of our health and weight obsessed world. Children are being exposed to diets via the media and older family members who openly restrict their food intake, all the while complaining about their thighs. What sort of messages are these to impressionable young minds?
And from what I can see most people in between aren’t happy with their size either. Everyone is trying so hard to improve themselves, we’ve lost the ability to appreciate how wonderful we are, regardless of size. And no I’m not condemning the pursuit of health, nor am I sanctioning being unhealthy.
Being kind to your body requires treating it well including good food, sleep and exercise. Constant dissatisfaction with your body will not make it better or healthier. Self-care will.
So what has this got to do with fat toddlers?
I’m a mother of two young children, and it breaks my heart every time they come home saying that so-and-so on the TV is fat, or that ‘chips make you fat’, or that ‘sweets are bad’, or that they ‘have to do exercise’ because it’s good for them.
They’re children. I give them healthy meals, but never will you see me holding back the sweets at parties. They will never be put in ‘exercise’ classes.
They do gymnastics – because it’s fun. They have swimming lessons – because they need to know how for safety. They run around in the garden and climb – because they enjoy it and because chances are I’ve just told them off for running on the stairs and climbing on the furniture.
On a recent holiday to France we made a ritual of ordering a giant salad to put in the middle of the table to share, and everyone could pick (or fight over) the bits they liked best. I also introduced them to the wonderful world of Nutella crepes, because that’s the stuff that memories are made of. They were allowed blue slush puppy drinks. The six year old also walked up all 700 steps to the second floor or the Eiffel Tower without complaint.
I want my kids to be healthy, of course I do. But health isn’t just about how much ‘exercise’ they get or how many trees (broccoli) you can bribe them to begrudgingly eat. Health is in the mind too. Happiness is health.
No matter what the scale says, I’m very proud to say my kids are happy. And so long as they are happy, they’ll be healthy.