I’m glad my kids aren’t fat

OK, there, I’ve said it. So shoot me.

It feels like some shameful secret I’m supposed to hide – my joy that my children have strong, lithe, healthy bodies.

When I enter my local aquatic centre, I shudder at the size of some of the kids in their cossies. I murmur a prayer of thanks that mine aren’t carrying all those spare tyres.

Yet.

Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t love my children less if they were large. They will always be my sweethearts, no matter what.  And I will always foster their self-esteem, no matter what. But I really hope – for their sakes – that they stay thin.

Perhaps “thin” is the wrong word. It’s been bastardised to mean size sub-size-zero celebrities tottering down beaches in bikinis with every rib clearly showing.

What’s the word I’m looking for then? One that means “not fat” … whatever it is, that’s what I want my kids to stay.

I wish “thin” hadn’t become such a corrupted, dirty word. It’s the way nature/God had in mind when it/he/she created us. He/she meant us to be lean, mean fighting machines, not sweating, shuffling mounds of fat.

Australia is one of the fattest nations in the world – fourteen million Aussies are overweight or obese – yet we encourage our children to embrace their shape, no matter what.

I have difficulty stomaching articles like “Making the case for size acceptance”, which makes dubious points like “fat people eat the same as thin people”. I’m sure they do sometimes, there are medical conditions that mean obesity is unavoidable. Or Plus-size bodies what is wrong with them anyway? with its outrage that “50% of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller”.

I think they’re missing the scary point. If weight gain continues at current levels, by 2025, close to 80% of all Australian adults and a third of all children will be overweight or obese according to a study by Monash University. Obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia. It causes diabetes, heart, stroke and vascular diseases.

Health disorders in children like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, hypertension and sleep apnea can be directly attributed to childhood obesity.

Sure, there’s a fine line you walk with kids when it comes to promoting positive body image. The last thing you want is them to develop an eating disorder or become paranoid about every mouthful they eat. It’s important they don’t decide natural curves are ugly and skeletal is beautiful. Because it’s not. Starving yourself isn’t cool, thinking food is the enemy isn’t healthy.

But food isn’t your best friend either. Its purpose isn’t company, comfort and consolation.

I’m careful not to be a nazi about my children’s diets. They eat junk. We inhaled an outrageous amount of rocky road at the airport yesterday. Airports are temples of junk. Outrageously expensive junk at that. But generally I try to teach them the value of moderation and the benefits of exercising.

It bothers me that I’m not being a good role model for them right now. I’m about 10kg overweight, I guess. I’m too scared to stand on the scales to confirm it. And I know exactly why I’ve gained weight. I’ve been eating too much fatty food, drinking too much wine and blogging instead of exercising. Full stop. Simple as that.

Belly begone

Last night we ate gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce for dinner (the cupboards were bare after a weekend in Melbourne) and drank a bottle of pinot gris. It was an evilly delicious treat for the tastebuds, but not so crash-hot for the waistline.

I know if I ate less rubbish and did more exercise I’d feel better, physically and emotionally.

I don’t want to be coddled about my size. I don’t want plus-sized models in my magazines, showing me how to fashionably clothe my expanses and making me think it’s acceptable to have let my girth expand. I don’t want people telling me I look fine just the way I am. I don’t want to become complacent about being 10kg overweight.  I don’t want to start thinking it’s normal.

Because it’s not. I want those extra 10 kilos gone. Not because of societal pressure to be thin or media manipulation, but for my health, my family and me.

If that means no more gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce for a while, it’s a fair price to pay.

I’ve said it sooooo many times before, but I really mean it now. Said the woman who meant it last time …

12 thoughts on “I’m glad my kids aren’t fat

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  1. Your kids aren’t fat because you provide healthy food and (I’m sure) encourage a certain amount of exercise. I am shocked at how many people I see giving their children coke. I saw one woman giving a 3 year old 2 large cokes before bed time. That’s what’s making kids fat. There are a myriad of reasons why adults are fat, but there’s no excuse for children. it just comes down to too much fatty, sugary food and limited exercise.

  2. I agree with you, Alana, but I have to say it’s a tricky line to walk. I want my kids to grow up fit and healthy, which doubtless means lean, but I also wish I could save my daughter Matilda from a lifetime of worrying about her thighs. Constant weight anxiety messes with women’s self esteem and holds us back (she said, on her latest must-lose-baby-weight-without-giving-up-wine mission). How do we promote the healthy eating and exercise message without pinpointing a perfect size or shape that we’re all meant to be? I also cringe at the sight of clearly unhealthy kids, but I’d also hate for my own to pick up on that and think it was okay to taunt or think less of another because of their size. Complicated?

    1. I know what you mean Holly. I’m so careful not to place any emphasis on body shape around them. I want happy, confident kids. I wish I knew the best way to handle it.

  3. Have you actullyed looked at any of the medical studies behind what you claim is directly associated with fat or did you just read some article about it? Because no study in existence stays they are directly caused by fat.

      1. Nowhere on that page or site does it say obesity causes any disease or disorder. It does say that people with obesity has health issues but no where does it say they are caused by obesity like you claimed.

    1. Ah I see where I missed it, I was looking for different phrasing. However that entire website provides zero sources or studies for that claim that obesity causes anything directly. If you like I can provide multiple sources from actual studies not just some website, that state that while there is correlation to obesity there is no causation.

      It looks like that University just decided to use media scaremongering tactics since they did not have actual science to back up their position.

      1. Apologies LadyTL, I thought I could trust a university website. Yes, I would really like some links on obesity not having detrimental health effects.

      2. Sorry it took a while to get back to you, work and finding my sources, here are the studies I was talking about:

        http://www.jabfm.org/content/25/4/422.full
        “After adjusting for diabetes and hypertension, severe obesity was no longer associated with mortality, and milder obesity (BMI 30-<35) was associated with decreased mortality (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.81; 95% confidence interval, 0.68–0.97). "

        http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-weve-came-to-believe-that.html
        This talks about one of the first studies on eating and weight, the connections and behaviors of them.

        http://www.neurology.org/content/65/6/892.abstract
        "Declining body mass index (BMI) is associated with increased risk of incident Alzheimer disease (AD). Loss of BMI may reflect pathologic processes that contribute to the subsequent development of AD."

        http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-05/osu-bd052510.php
        " A study examining the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and illness suggests that a BMI of 30 or above, a signal of obesity according to federal health standards, does not translate into current illness among adults under age 40."

        http://www.jabfm.org/content/25/1/9.abstract?etoc
        "Healthy lifestyle habits are associated with a significant decrease in mortality regardless of baseline body mass index."

        http://thinkmuscle.com/health/obesity-health-metabolic-fitness/
        This article has a multitude of sources about how fitness matters more then weight to health.

        http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM198603063141003
        "With or without consideration of hypertension, cigarette smoking, extremes or gains in body weight, or early parental death, alumni mortality rates were significantly lower among the physically active. Relative risks of death for individuals were highest among cigarette smokers and men with hypertension, and attributable risks in the community were highest among smokers and sedentary men."

        http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=200731
        "Overweight was not associated with excess mortality"

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16580531?dopt=Abstract
        "In patients with known CAD undergoing MPS, obese and overweight patients were at lower risk of CD over three years than normal weight patients."

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15325685?dopt=Abstract
        "This study confirms the protective effect of a high BMI on femoral neck bone mineral density among elderly subjects. The risk for osteoporosis among men and women with a BMI above 30 kg/m2 was approximately 33% compared with subjects with a normal BMI."

        http://www.amjmed.com/article/PIIS0002934306009685/abstract
        "As has been observed in HF patients, obesity was associated with a substantially lower mortality risk in a clinical population of non-HF veterans. "

        This is only scratching the surface as well. A couple good websites for you to look into are http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com and http://www.fatnutritionist.com/ They both focus on health in ways that are healtheir then an endless drive to loose weight or stay below a certain weight that you can use with your kids and hopefully help with your problem in how you view fat people so that it does not come to harm your kids.

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