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.

So Saturday at the veterinary surgery ……

Jackson, my cat, was looking a bit off.  I can’t say exactly how he was looking, but he appeared to be a bit lethargic, and maybe not as up-beat as he usually appears.

I noticed it on Wednesday night, but then I shrugged and figured I was probably over reacting.

On Saturday night I went out in the garden and he was lying between the lavender, and looking just too cool for his own good.

I stood there and stared and him, and then I thought, if I left him he might be not well and he might pass out in the neighbour’s garden.

It was 19h30 on a Saturday night, so I stood there and thought about it.  A sane person might have shrugged and left it, but I am not really enrolled with that particular school, so I called my local veterinary clinic.

Panorama Veterinary is a 24 hour vet, and has a veterinarian on staff all the time, so you can toddle down there with your sick and wounded animal any time.

Nice service.

Nice overtime fee.

I took Jackson down to be checked out as I knew I would push myself into paranoia if I just “left it..”

As is my luck, I handed over a few hundred rand to a very nice vet to tell me that Jackson is fine.

I must confess the fact that she pushed a thermometer into his and gave him an injection in the neck <as a precaution> and he remained dozing on my arm. I thought it was a sign that something was clearly a bit off, but vet lady assured me that Jackson is in great condition.

But my actual story is the part where Connor and I were waiting on the waiting room.

Panorama Vet is surprisingly busy, so we had to wait about 45 minutes.  The practice has one of those little powerpoint things running with semi amusing distractions and basic advise for pet owners.

One of the slides was about Hills Science Diet and some BEFORE and AFTER photographs of some rather large dogs/cats and how they lost weight by their owners putting them on a (restricted) diet of Hills.

Okay, normal stuff.  But the dog and the cat in the image were huge, but the after pictures were obviously of really slim and healthy pets.

I am sitting there with Connor and Jackson is in his travel box, and I am sort of staring blankly at the screen.  Overweight dog image comes on the screen and the woman next to me asks: “Is that a real picture, is that dog really that big?”

So vet receptionist goes: “Yes it is…”

Woman next to me – who just for the record is really large goes: “Those owners should be shot for animal abuse …”

I sort of pulled my head around and looked at her and thought, seriously woman, of all the chunky people in here to be passing judgement on a chunky dog ….. and the dog’s owner … me thinks you need to maybe stand on a scale some time and take a good look at yourself.

Obviously I did not say that, as I sincerely lack the guts to often say what I think, but then the thought occurred to me.

And then I remembered my other humbug issue.

There are so many overweight kids in my kids’ school it is a bit alarming.  Usually, when I see the parents they are packing a few extra kilograms – but who among us isn’t.

I know it is really easy to say that “weight” is hereditary, but I personally believe it isn’t….  too much.  Weight is often what parents teach their children to eat as part of their daily diet, or combine a certain lifestyle that includes food/activity and so on, and maybe then a child starts to have the same “shape” as his or her parents.

Seldom do “big kids” belong to small parents, it just does not really happen, or it does, and I have not encountered it much.

My kids are ridiculously skinny.  It really is one of those cases of if they did not have an arse, their pants might not remain up stories.

As a kid I was really skinny.  As an adult I was as well.  I started packing it on in my early thirties, so I have about 10 kilograms that I need to get rid of, but that being beside the point, for today.

There are several kids at my daughter school – pre-school who are chubby.  We are not talking endearing “puppy fat” we are talking overweight for kids.

There are several kids at my son’s school primary who are larger than they should be, again not a bit of “puppy fat” but overweight kids.  Like shirt too tight, or pinafore dress that does not quite button up well.

The question that runs in my head every time I see these kids is “If they are big now, they will be big as adolescents, if they are big as adolescents they will probably have harder teenage years than teenage years already are.  If they are big teenagers, odds are they will enter their twenties big.  Yes, I get that big people can be happy people and it is not all about the number on the scale.  But overweight people are often picked on and made to feel sh*t by their less kilogram challenged peers.  These larger kids end up entering the rather challenging twenties with depression and a poor self image…”

Or I could just be jumping to conclusions, and this was just an image on the screen at the vet.  And overweight kids at school are okay, or they are not ……