"Why do parents let their kids get fat?"

Anyone see the item in BBC news today about childhood obesity?


Some interesting - and frightening - statistics in there, 33% of 11 year olds and 22% of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese. One of the women featured in the article reached 20 stone in her teens, she said her mum wasn't to blame and that in fact she had tried to help by enrolling her in sports clubs, getting professional help and even going to the school to tell them what she should and shouldn't be eating ... I'm at a loss to think what else the parents could do in that situation?




  • I find this a hard one.  My daughter is a bit overweight at age 9.  

    SHe is 'sturdy' more than anything else although does have a belly and boobs.  She looks fine except when stood next to some of the really teeny girls her age who look several years younger.

    During one week she does roughly 7 hours of sport a week (all be it not always with tons of enthusiasm). most of it gets her hot and sweaty.

    During the summer she is outdoor all the time but once autumn hits Scotland - all the kids seem to disapear inside except for organised activities.

    I am pretty strict with the quality of the food I have in the house  since she stopped being a wee skinny thing and got a bit sturdy - but I am loathe to start calorie counting or do anything to make her too conscious of what she eats other than the normal household's obsession (me, hubbie and eldest son) with health - she often asks what is the healthiest between various options. I also don't see her eating much and as I control her money and lunch box - there is nowhere else for her to get any rubbish from. I am in no doubt that she has a very sweet tooth but I keep as much sugar out of her diet as is humane (she is a kid after all).


    My mum dieted her whole life - me and my sister are both normal weight and obsessed with our diets. I don't want this for my daughter (or son), but want her to be healthy too.

  • Dave The Ex- Spartan wrote (see)

    a muzzle

    That made me laugh. image

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    I think it depends. It can be partly due to parents choice bu just like gym addict says - it can sometimes be that they're just sturdy. My nephew plays sports at least an hour a day and he's a large lad but there's no fat on him - he's big but it's all muscle and little podge.
  • There's some and some in my opinion.

    Around 9 years old a girl's body especially is going through a lot of changes, and it's a race between getting wider and taller. I have 2 daughters, and the younger one always had a penchant for a bit more of the unhealthy stuff than was necessary. Her podge has slowly falled away as she has approached her teens. Her elder sister is as skinny as Barbie, except for a tummy that sticks out. She doesn't eat enough, but does eat the wrong sort of "food" and likes a drink at the weekend. I blame the cider.

    Any 5 year old is the product of the parents. End of story. Encouraging or allowing addictive habits like chocolate and pop after school or as a bribe for going shopping is a one way street as I see it.

    You can call me biased, opinionated or rude, but you can't call me wrong.


  • I think it might have a lot to do with video games, ds type things, laptops, phones with games, the internet, tvs in every room. It seems some parents are happiest when their kids are sitting in front of a screen.

    Given the choice most normal kids would be out running around, kicking a ball or climbing the nearest tree - until Santa brings them something with a small screen and suddenly they turn into grunting, pale, grumpy game addicts.

    Those things are banned from our house, and there is only one tv. The kids pretty much eat what they want, within reason, but I find after they have been playing outside for a few hours they are more likely to come in looking for a baked potato or bowl of soup than a packet of sweets - it's as though your body really does know what it needs.

    As a seperate point, I was the "tubby" child in our house growing up; but not in a morbidly obese way, more that I just had a slightly different body shape and a rounder face than my wiry brothers and sisters. Looking back, I would have just naturally grown into my shape in my teens had I not taken on board a comment my own mother made to me that cut me to the bone (the word "dumpy" was in there.)

    So began many years of eating disorder misery, bouts of skeletal-ness and obesity, which I am only now beginning to leave in my past.

    So, if you have a child who is slightly larger than his/her brothers and sisters,  please be careful what you say to them as you are stepping on seriously dangerous ground. Chances are they know they are the "big" one, so you don't need to point it out to them. Gentle guidance and setting a good example work without anyone getting hurt.


  • I saw a woman and child walking along the other morning at would have been going to school time. The woman was eating a doughnut and the child a chocolate 'lolly' on a stick. Amazingly, there was another child walking with them who was not eating at all.
  • I have 2 very slim sons and one chunky.he has always been chunkier.he has a broad barrell chest and solid legs.hit puberty very young.he is youngest but wider waist than his brothers.brought up in the same household...............

    eldest eats the most crap but is very skinny........

    youngest is not what i would call obese or fat but he must have a high BMI as he is so solid........

  • The ingredients on the packet should read like a recipe. If they read like a formula for vermin control put it back on the shelf.


  • Sorry springle, don't agree.  Mr C is a games programmer so we have computers galore in the house as well as Xbox etc.  Both Mr C and Little C are on the very slim side, play football, enjoy swimming etc but both enjoy computer games, little C as a treat.

  • I have friends whose kitchens look like an explosion in a sweet factory and the kids are stick insects

    My kitchen looks like it belongs to a health-nut (which it does) and yet both my sport-billy kids have puppy-fat..... 

    I plan on sticking to encouraging lots of exercise (outdoors when possible - hockey and football are the favs at the minute) and emphasizing the health of foods rather than the fatteningness of them. I just hope I can do a better job encouraging a healthy attitude to food than my own mother did.  As someone earlier posted, I will never forget when at 16,my dad mentioned in passing that I was a bit chunky (coming from someone morbidly obese - this was a bit rich). 


    I blame tv, video games, parent paranoia (no playing in the street!), bad weather and the vast quatities of sugar in foods marketed to children...... and myself of course but that surely is what every mother does.


    ( on the video game front - my son loves to run around outside but all of his pals want to sit in and play games online - so often he ends up just going with the majority)

  • Eating healthy foods is only part of the solution. Portion control also comes into play. 
    There's no point in providing healthy food if you could feed an entire nation with the quantity.

    I see it at work - massive meals, most of which are unhealthy I have to admit, given to already overweight inactive adults. 3 or 4 shredded wheats with sugar and a jam sandwhich (2 slices of thich cut bread)  given for breakfast to an adult who is going to spend the day sat down watching TV for the most part. That's followed by mid morning snack, large lunch, mid afternoon snack and massive dinner. Then supper before bed.
    These people are given more food in a day than I eat yet they do no exercise and I exercise daily. No one seems to get portion control or the notion that these people are overweight and carrying too much fat. It doesn't help that over half the staff are overweight or obese.


  • t mouse..........my boys all have very very big portions.................and they do not snack much......mainly fruit........

    its hard to get the balance between bigger meals and reduce snacking or lots of smaller meals and snacks.......

  • portion control and eating healthily is really hard when you actually really love food......

    some peopel aren't that bothered and so its easier for them to do without....

    same as some people need their fix of exercise and if you got told you can't run for a month oer had to cut down to one mile a day.people would suffer........otrhers would find it easy..

    similar to sex.if we were all told not sex for a month or to cut back to once a month for the rest of your life...........some people would find it a lot easier to do than others..........

    so its not just will power or lack of it...........its harder for people who get a lot of their life pleasures for food....not saying it can't or should't be done.....but it is harder......

  • The thing is seren, these people for the most part eat very little fruit or veg. They don't like it so wont eat it. They don't have the ability to understand that fruit and veg is good, sweets, biscuits, cakes etc are treats. they want a regular diet of the bad things.

    Some do like fruit and veg and will eat it. but that is given in addition to the bad stuff, not in exchange. So an item of fruit is given mid morning along with goahead bars or cake and biscuits.

    These people need to lose weight for their health and mobility yet no one seems to understand why they are not loosing any.

    It's not really about pleasure - if we had pleasure all the time we would not go to work, not do any housework, not care about others etc etc etc. So if food is your pleasure you have to learn to ration it. I like food, I like wine, I deny myself because I don't want liver disease or to be drunk all the time or to be unfit and overweight. I exercise because I enjoy being fit granted. It doesn't hold that much pleasure for everyone.

    You can't justify greed in whatever shape or form it takes.

  • Cinders - obviously you have the balance right in your house, with the little one enjoying swimming and football and the computer games being viewed as a "treat."

    The children/parents I was referring to are the ones who choose video games over football and swimming, and thus have no balance in their lives. Some of those kids would never see daylight if it wasn't for going to school.

  • I agree Kittenkat - nutrition does need to be taught, and from an early age, in my opinion.

    It really helps if you get the kids into the kitchen so they can cook their own dinner and see just what goes into their meals. The usual kids favourites like chicken nuggets, fish fingers and pizza - or last nights' yummy chicken curry -  can be made from scratch at home with very little difficulty (and often a lot of fun) and my two think they taste much better than shop-bought ones. I tell them it's because we know what is in them - and when you buy factory-made you really don't know - or want to know.

    The only drawback is the cost. The ingredients for tonights' fish pie came to almost £10. Not a huge amount to feed five people, but I could have bought a ready made one for half the price.

    The food companies are scraping the leftover trimmings off the factory floor, adding some fat to improve the texture, adding a mountain of salt or sugar to improve the taste, and then selling it as "food" to people on a budget. We will never get the obesity crisis under control until everyone is able to afford real food. Sure, fifty chicken nuggets for a pound looks like a good deal for someone on the poverty line, but what on earth is in them? Not much "chicken," that's for sure.


  • Mine are the opposite - they much prefer shop bought nuggets or MacDs to ones we make ourselves.   

    Also echo what some others say - of my three two are thin and one is relatively sturdy - probably about average weight but to my mind slightly over what she should be - and she is by far the most sporty one and the one who eats the most healthy stuff - I think she just eats more of it.   She does triathlon, cycling and football competitively - if you look at her football team a lot of the kids aren't dead skinny either.   Her grandad on her mum's side is built like a brick outhouse so I think she's got a bit of his genes - for a 10 year old girl she is really strong and can throw a proper punch.

  • Sorry if I am being a thread-hogger here, it's just a very interesting subject.

    I just wanted to add, to all of my other points, that there is an assumption that is often made - not by anyone here, but in the "real world" -  that "skinny" is the same as "healthy."

    It is clear from many posters descriptions of their kids that a childs' shape seems to have no bearing on how sporty they are or how well they eat. In fact, reading back, most posters here talk about their "larger" child being the most active one.

    I know plenty of adults that are super-skinny and yet eat rubbish. There is no way that they can be healthier than a larger person who eats well. Is it the same with children, or are we conditioned to think that "fat" children are unhealthy, regardless of their diet, while thin children are ok, even if they eat nothing but sweets?

    Now I am aware of the health risks that come with being very heavy, and I am not talking about the super-obese adults and children, who clearly need to make changes in their lives.

    But if a child is active and eats a balanced diet, then does it really matter if they are the largest in their class? Should we be looking instead at their super-twiggy classmates who eat only crisps and drink only Dr Pepper? (I know one sven year old just like that, I wonder how they will look in 10 years time)

  • good post springle

  • Healthy and fit does not necessarily mean slim. 

    I am an overweight runner (yes, I admit I am overweight), but I am quite fit - I can run comfortably for 10 or 11 miles and am on a half marathon training plan right now.  It took me a while to get my head around the fact that fit does not always equal slim, but it did help when I was running a 10k race and was leaving an awful lot of slim people behind as they were walking and seriously puffed out.

    My diet is pretty good - generally eat well in the week and have food/alcohol treats at the weekend.  However, it is becoming more and more expensive to eat healthily and this could be part of the problem.  I also think that lots of todays kids are not as active as kids in years gone by (before the advent of computer games/devices)  so this, along with portion control, would seem to be the reason.

  • Something has changed within the last 25/30 years in terms of childhood obesity, though.  When I was in primary school (late 80s) there was 1 fat kid in my class of 30.  Now it's close to 10 times that, by the sounds of things. 

    I think it is partly that people's perception of what is normal is getting skewed.  People tell me I'm slim.  If I look at photos from the 50s/60s, plenty of people were my size.  Then, I would have been normal.  Now normal is overweight.  This means that some parents genuinely don't think of their kids as fat when they are.

    I think it is also probably that, in addition to a less healthy and higher calorie diet, many people no longer have the low-level activity (walking to the bus stop, walking to the local shop, etc.) which they used to have.  They drive everywhere and they drive their kids everywhere. 

  • Some really interesting thoughts there, thanks everyone! It's really interesting to hear how you would deal with the issue. I'm at a bit of a loss, other than giving kids a healthy example to follow - and by that I don't just mean eating salads and nothing else, but by dealing with it in a way that doesn't create a lot of anxiety and stress around what they eat. I know a couple of people who have real issues with food as adults, which I'm convinced is partly down to the way they were bullied over their eating habits as a child.

    I think there is a big difference between a 'sturdy' person and someone who is significantly overweight or obese. We all know, or at least know of, one extremely healthy person who would be classed as obese on the BMI scale, but I think the average person on the street is just getting a little bit bigger every year so we don't really appreciate that 'average' is pushing into the overweight category.

    Joolska - I agree with you on the lack of low-level activity in everyday life as a contributing factor, not just to childhood obesity but obesity in general. However, it really winds me up when my dad comes out with the old chestnut about his generation being a model of health. Sure, there was less childhood obesity than there is today, but who is it thats draining the NHS with all their obesity, drinking and smoking related illnesses now? Healthier generation my foot!

  • xine267 as somebody who might be close to your dad's age I have to agree with him to some extent, as Joolska said if you look at school photos from the 50s and 60s there are hardly any overweight kids let alone obese.  I was with one of my daughters at the weekend and we looked at a photo I have of the lower half of the school I attended, it's in 1966, one of those long panoramic ones.  She was fascinated by the look of everybody.  But it was a different world and you can't turn clocks back short of a nuclear war!  

    I agree with you about the many older people now who are the big users of the NHS and in terms of smoking I guess they are paying for lack of the same knowledge people have today, drinking that they probably now have some spare money and obesity shows how quickly you can change you body shape, upwards.

    It does fill you with fear though that it has taken them 60+ years to get there, today's generations are likely to get there a lot quicker.

  • Joolska wrote (see)

    Something has changed within the last 25/30 years in terms of childhood obesity, though.  When I was in primary school (late 80s) there was 1 fat kid in my class of 30.  Now it's close to 10 times that, by the sounds of things. 

    yes, at least back in the 70s there was pretty much 1 per class who'd be known forever as "fatty". and they probably wouldn't have stood out in the classes of today.

    and one with glasses who'd be known as "speccy".

    sometimes, unfortunately for the child, they might both be the same person.


  • But where are these fat kids.......

    i have been into a couple of local schools recently going around all the classes...............i could only see a very few in the junior schools who I would consider obese let alone morbidly obese.........

    in both my sons comps I also only see a handful of kids who i would call obese...........

    and we live in a deprived are where the highest proportions of obese people are...

    so either I have a really weird idea of obese or these measurements aren't accurate.

    kids are a lot taller these days with bigger feet and bones because they are being fed well as babies...........

    what measurements are they using to get the statistics.........


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