Do fat kids make fat adults?

I saw a photograph recently on Facebook of a girl I knew from school.  I was a bit taken aback by how big she was.  I really should not have been so surprised as she was really big at school.

Let’s not use euphemisms, she was fat, and she is now a fat adult.  Fat is not a nice word.  I think “overweight” is the more politically correct term.

When I was at school I was supersized skinny.  If it was not for my hips, my head would have fallen through my arse.   I ate a fair amount, but I was really skinny – knobbly knees skinny in fact.

I inherited the height and build from my paternal side of the family, my maternal side are more squat in build.  Both my brothers and I are quite tall – not giraffe tall – but tall enough.

That being said, we did not exactly have access to huge amounts of food on demand when we were kids.  We entertained ourselves was by running around all day – so I guess it was a combination of factors.  The food coming in, the type and the amount versus the energy we were expending.

I hated being skinny and I got mercilessly taunted at school.    Kids are mean.  You put them in a peer group and they become a mob.  They look for the one they can pick on – for anything.  Body size – either side of “normal” is usually targetted.

When I was at school there was normally 1 kid in the class who was fat – maybe one in the grade.

You can always remember that kid.  It would often be the kid who was really funny, or the kid who really was a bully.  This kid would be the “butt” of nearly ever joke.

I cannot believe that these taunts do not affect a child’s sense of who they are and how the world sees them.  It must be devastating to be “the fat kid.”

When I drop my kids (especially Connor) at school I have noticed that the kids on average are big.  Not big-boned, but fat.  There are still a few skinny kids, and some “average” weighted kids, but there are a lot of kids who are just fat.

At a glance {and this is not a scientific study} I estimate it is about 20 % of the grade of the kids at my son/daughter’s school who are really big/fat/over weight kids.

The buttons on their shirts take a little strain, and the girls pinafore’s belt just just closes.  The have two little chins, and their legs are solid – one straight line, no real definition in terms of knees and ankles.  Usually their parents are big/fat/over weight ….. usually, but not always.

I am convinced that the size of a child has nothing to do with how many McDonald’s there are in your neighbourhood, or what thier highest score is on your Playstation, it comes down to what that child eats.  And if we are going to point fingers, what his parents are feeding him.

I often look at these kids and I think “what future is ahead of you?  Life is rough for everyone,  but for a fat kid, it must be excruciating!”

If you are fat when you are 6 or 10 years old, what will your weight and your health be at 20 or 25?  What is the stress on your joints and your body, and imagine all the running around and playing you are missing because you cannot keep up.

My guess is that unless your parents climb in now, with reckless abandon, that child is going to be a fat child, and then a fat teen and then a fat adult.

If one more person tells me their child is big-boned, I am going to smack them up the side of the head.

I think it is easy to blame society, the prevalence of fast foods, the more sedentary lifestyle we lead, global warming, or what ever.  But, as parents we really need to stop being “child blind” and see our kids for the weight they are – and our contribution to the problem.

As parents it is so easy to shrug your shoulder and sigh “what can I do, he really likes his food” but maybe that is not enough.

Possibly I am the only person who find “fat kids” really offensive – and a sign of questionable parenting – and feels sorry for how difficult their teenage years are going to be.

Being at school is brutal, and why as a parent would you knowingly add another factor which makes it difficult for a child to fit in.  It is a bit like painting a target on your child’s back and sending them out into the woods, with hunters about.

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18 Comments

  1. Cdhillen

     /  January 29, 2017

    You obviously have no clue. You are blessed to not have the struggle that so many parents do. Yes calories in calories out, but you and your perfect sized child where born with an amazing motabolizim. Yes not all kids and parents are making good choices on a daily basis, but what about the parents like me who loose sleep at night and try so hard everyday to help my little 9 year old daughter. It is a daily struggle and a scary one. You have no place to judge us. If you really care, find a way to help. This deffinantly is not it.

    Reply
  2. Didi

     /  March 18, 2013

    What do these mothers feed there kids? Surely it can’t be all Maccas/KFC? Or is just whatever the kid wants? (Mac ‘n cheese, a whole bag of chips/lollies?) My child is severely underweight (hubby and I both average height and build) so I just can’t connect with this childhood obesity “epidemic”. And if anything, wish there was MORE fat on his bones. We restrict his junk but making him eat normal food is just plain impossible. I want him to put on weight desperately, is the answer to just feed him whatever he wants? I know how ridiculous that sounds, but is that what mothers are actually doing? I once read a poll on what what a “typical” day’s food looked like for children in my mothers forum, but I refuse point-blank to believe a bar of what I read. Many of the kids are large (not fat, or at least normal), with things like yoghurt/cereal for breakky, sandwich for lunch and noodles for dinner. Really? Is it just the way these kids metabolise their food/genetics, are they being fed heaps of snacks in between, are the portions supersized, do they let their kids eat in front of the TV, or am I the only one who’s doing the right thing? Is my child so tiny because he HAS to eat healthy food/portions or nothing else (often the case)? Maybe he is the right size for kids in the 50’s? I just wish I had answers and don’t want to feel like a bad mother as my child has always been the tiniest 😦

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 18, 2013

      Diane, I think the culprit is two fold –

      1) Unrestricted access to refined sugar and high carbohydrate meals for children. I personally think that these are not the “devil’s work” they are just a sign of our times. But as parents/meal provider we need to balance this with meals with low carbs, higher protein and more fresh fruit and vegetables. We also need to say NO to our children and be able to recognise the difference between hunger and boredom.

      2) Physical activity. Our kids naturally do less than we did at that age. They spend too much time on the couch or in front of their computer/DS or what ever. There needs to come a point where things are switched off and kids are sent outside. End of story.

      Reply
  3. Good Post! It can be a very sensitive subject, but like most things in life, it shouldn’t be really. But then, I get told off sometimes for being too blunt! ‘Real’ I think is a better word. To me, ‘fat’ is one of the last allowed prejudices. I was fat, as was my younger brother, from teens upwards. I then battled with being overweight for most of my twenties, finally losing it and keeping it off in my thirties. Brother also. To keep it off permanently, I had to retrain myself to eat healthily because I wasn’t, I didn’t even think about what I was putting in my mouth in my youth, just enjoyed my independance to put in as much as I wanted of whatever I wanted and tried to be a ‘happy fat person’. But my parents eat healthily, are not overweight, two sisters and an older brother who have never been either .. go figure??
    I agree with you, I think it’s about awareness of our kids. It’s okay to say we’re only responsible for their diet up to a certain age but that’s not true, at a young age I think it’s important we try and instill healthy eating habits, but then continue to guide them – as they start to make their own food choices and purchases, and as you say, keep an eye on them. It might be a sign of emotional problems, low self esteem. It takes months and years to pile on a lot of weight, we must be aware of our children and teens physical and emotional well being surely? Being overweight can be a physical problem as well as an emotional one, we wouldn’t let our kids do anything else regularly that made them unhealthy or led to them being bullied or picked on. Tweens and Teens to me are at a most vulnerable stage, leaving the house and starting to make their own decisions in life, I think this is when you must watch closely. When they are most vulnerable, as they first experience independance in the outside world, they need our guidance then. Unfortunately, they also at this age think their parents are uncool and know nothing, so I’ll have to try and think of a way of staying involved, without cramping their style lol!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  April 3, 2012

      I don’t know what the answer is either – my kids at McDonalds for lunch, so I am hardly the world’s foremost advocate of “healthy eating” …..

      Reply
  4. I have also noticed tha kids are rather overweight – but saying that, most are not. What I do believe is that the combination of an active life style and a good diet is something that must be a family tradition started from very young

    Reply
  5. I was the skinny kid. Not easy at all. I think this is a very, very good post. One can take it a step further because according to scientists an overweight mother pregnant with her child increases the chance of the child being obese which increases the child’s chance of being an obese adult.

    And sadly in most cases we can do alot to prevent child obesity.

    Reply
  6. Great post. You can take it a step further as scientists believe that overweight parents have overweight children who become overweight adults. Going to be slapped for that but something to think about. It is worrying how many overweight children there are and you can see it by the numbers of chldren who now have diabetes whcih was usually an adult disease.

    Scary, but we can do someting about this.

    Reply
  7. joanne

     /  April 2, 2012

    Shew… as a fat person, having been a fat child, this is hard to read. Really hard …

    I think, no I know, there comes an age where parents are no longer 100% responsible for the weight of their children. This age is around the time when kids are able to make their own sandwiches, spend their own tuck money and say “mommy…. I’m still hungry”

    I know this because at the age of 9 I was being weighed and measured, by my first dietician. At age 11 I was attending my first weighless meeting, being ‘taught’ portion control and ‘better choices’ Despite always featuring as “WA” on the A team of my age group in netball, I packed on the pounds over summer and dropped them over winter season. I really believe that the focus should not have been on what I was eating, as opposed to why I was eating and not what I weighed, but was my output exceeding my input.

    I Still fight the fight. Struggling the struggle and now use food to punish or reward myself and the numbers on the scale going up or down are attached to my self-esteem with a very short, very transparent string. I did not learn a life skill from a young age, which most either learnt, or now as adults use wine instead of food to achieve the same affect

    Reply
    • Ja, it’s hard to grow up as chubby, coz it feels ingrained in your self esteem. When I see moms labelling kids, especially girls as fat, I could get the absolute shits, because it sinks in. I agree with what you said about the focus should have been on why you ate instead of what you weighed. This weight thing is a tough one. Tough to be balanced, healthy yet relaxed and happy with oneself.

      Reply
      • reluctantmom

         /  April 2, 2012

        Georgia has come home from school and indicated that her legs are fat …. she is six … she also weighs slightly more than a set of chopsticks …..

        Reply
    • There is such a fine line between making sure your child eats correctly and making a fuss about over eating which can lead to all sorts of eating disorders. I guess the only way it would work is for the whole family to naturally eat properly from the start. I am failing in this department already.

      Reply
    • Tania

       /  April 11, 2012

      I went through pretty much the same weighing routine, eating plan, visiting doctor, was dragged by my mom around age 10 – 12. Guess what, once I hit high school, the “puppy fat” dropped and I was fine. I was always a big girl as I was over 6foot and size 8 shoe, even size 9 sometimes, but I was tall and attractive, without my mom’s insistance on going on diet. Sigh!

      Reply
  8. Alexandra

     /  April 2, 2012

    I totaly agree and this is coming from me who is overweight though fortunately not as a child. But even so I have battled my weight enough as an adult that I would like to ensure that neither of my children have to go through the same thing. I see fat children and think so glad they’re not my children but I also think the same thing about ugly children which probably makes me very shallow but at the same time I agree with you it’s hard enough growing up without having to be the butt of everyone’s jokes.

    And on another topic, how many people have you slapped up the side of the head? Just curious 😉

    Reply
    • An ugly child? Not sure there is such a thing. Yes some of us are more challenged when it comes to looks. I would have given anything to be the school model, but ugly. Nope, I look back now and can’t say there were ugly children, only ugly personalities.

      Reply
  9. I’m fat. Obese in fact. my kids are thin. I pride myself in feeding them healthy food. (mostly). I do admit to judging fat children by labelling their parents as “bad parents”. I’m truly ashamed that I do, but I do. It’s almost like child abuse or neglect, as I was always the porky one in the grade. In hindsight when I look back, I wasn’t fat, it was puppy fat but I grew up believing I was fat and i can’t get that image and belief out my head.

    It’s a tough one this. Fat is external and your bad weakness is on view for everyone to see. and judge. But no ones perfect and everyone has a flaw. Everyday you’re flogged and beaten because your flaw is out for everyone to see.

    Why is it okay to judge someone about a weight issue when it’s not okay to judge someone about depression? Weight issue=go on diet. depression=go on pills. not easy hey?

    This topic blows my mind. I do agree with you about trying to get kids to eat more healthily. But why flog a broken horse?

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  April 2, 2012

      I don’t think it just about kids eating more healthy food, I think it may be about parents being aware of their children, and not excusing weight gain and putting it down to genetics or “we are a big boned family” – the life style we teach our kids is the one they grow up with, and it becomes their default.

      Reply
      • Tania

         /  April 11, 2012

        My Mom was totally aware of what my brother and I ate as kids. My brother could eat non stop and stay thin, if I ate as much as him, I would gain weight. We both did regular exercise through school sporting activities, we both liked to play and runaround outside. It is definately genetic and there is such a thing as big boned. I inherited the big german lady build, my brother the skinny dutch child build. My son seems to have the slimmer build up to now at age 10, my daughter is a whirlwind of life at 4 and is not fat nor pudgy but she is big for her age, at 4 she look like 6 going on 7… she seems to have my genes/big boned structure.

        Reply

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