To think it's awful the way some people try to justify their children being overweight

(252 Posts)
Tulahoob Tue 19-Feb-13 10:55:58

by saying they just "are tall and big boned" or that they "like their food". And by thinking it's almost a good thing that they're big!

I know two people with overweight children. Person 1 has 4 extremely overweight children. The parents are both tall and overweight, and the kids are all fairly tall, but the mum justifies them being big by saying 'They're just tall and they like their food'. It's clear they like their food, but they're not giants, and regardless of height they are all very overweight. The mum is almost proud of the fact that her children never stop eating. It's quite odd really; she's setting them up for a lifetime of having the piss taken out of them and a lifetime of bad eating habits and potentially bad health. Her eldest child even came came out as overweight on those weight/height ratio tests they do in reception year and she was proud of it because it meant he is tall and loves his food.

Person 2 has one son, who is again extremely overweight and is getting called names at school such as "Fatty". He is 7. She is up in arms about the mickey taking but insists he isn't fat, but that he just loves his food. Again, she is setting him up for the same problems that person one is setting their kids up for.

I know we are all blinkered where our kids are concerned. But surely over something like this some people can see that their children really are overweight?

soverylucky Tue 19-Feb-13 12:49:06

I didn't start putting weight on till I left home at 18 to go to university. It was my own fault. I am paranoid about my dd's being overweight. A few things I notice are firstly the almost constant snacking that I see all the time. When I was a child I would have a good breakfast - usually porrige, I would have nothing till lunch - we weren't allowed snacks at breaktime at my primary school. Obviously at high school it was different but it would be a piece of fruit. I would have my lunch and then when I got home I would be allowed 1 biscuit and fruit. I would have an evening meal - no desert except at weekends and then I would sometimes have a bit of toast for supper. I spend a day with friends and they have a bag bursting with crisps, biscuits, cut up fruit, mini - yogs, fruit flakes, raisins etc. The kids did into in all day. This is true of many of my friends. I don't get it but have mentioned this before in MN and got told I was a bad mum for not giving my kids more than one mid morning snack and one mid afternoon snack. My kids are healthy and not overweight.

I also notice that people give the same portion to all their children even if one is 3 and one is 9.

catkind Tue 19-Feb-13 12:54:55

I think it comes from when they're babies. All the HVs etc are terribly pleased when they gain weight and eat well. "Oh he does like his food" is almost a modest brush-off when people congratulate you on your big baby.
Some people don't realise this stops applying at some point!
<watches 91st percentile chubby baby suspiciously - oh no, she's 98th percentile for height, guess she's okay still>

BalloonSlayer Tue 19-Feb-13 12:57:42

I grew up hating most of the food I was given (thing classic 1960s/70s diet cooked by a not-very-good cook), constantly hungry and craving sweets.

I have ended up with the mindset that I really can't bring myself to give my DCs - two of them hugely fussy, one not at all - a plateful of something I know they can't stand. This is because I remember all too well the misery of a plate of sheep's hearts, boiled potatoes and tinned marrowfat peas < boak > and just want to give them something they like.

My sister was staying with me recently and one night we planned to have curry. She mentioned that my nephew really doesn't like curry but "never mind, he'll eat it, he just has to when we have curry." I know that my DSis was being sensible by not pandering to him, but it broke my heart in a way and I cooked him something else, which he was delighted about. She gave me the hmm look and I know she's right but I couldn't have enjoyed my food knowing that DN was hating his. (And he's 14! not a little kid!)

Getting to the point, I KNOW I have exactly the wrong attitude over feeding my kids. Yes I won't let them stuff and stuff but they rarely want to. I do make them eat appropriately, eg "no you can't have chocolate now, it'll be lunch in half an hour," and encourage them to eat fruit and veg, but broadly speaking I give them food they want to eat and my sole motivation for that is that I want my kids to enjoy their food and not dread mealtimes like I did when I was little.

So I am exactly the sort of person whose kids are likely to be fat. Except they are all as skinny as rakes.

So you wouldn't judge me by looking at my DCs, but that's probably just genes.

hamdangle Tue 19-Feb-13 12:58:40

Growing up we had a good portion of either salad or vegetables with every single meal and it was a variety of salad and veg too. When I was in college a friend went on a diet and she would bring her own salad which consisted of a bowl of iceberg lettuce with some processed ham chopped into it! She had no idea how to eat healthily without depriving herself and feeling miserable. My mum was also into chickpeas, lentils, mung beans before it became fashionable so our diet was healthy and varied and just seemed normal. We also rarely had puddings and never had biscuits in the house at all. If you are full up at dinner then why would you need a pudding?

ubik Tue 19-Feb-13 13:03:06

The whole baby weight thing can be very hmm

I know of some people who put custard in the baby's bottle "to build him up" shock

And the fact is that children who are fat take in more calories than they burn - there is no great mystery to it.

My children are not overweight and eat a fair amount of rubbish - but they do dancing, swimming, athletics and run round park with friends every week. They snack on fruit and the odd biscuit. A packet of crisps is a treat. They get sausage and chips once a week.

Oblomov Tue 19-Feb-13 13:15:30

Theicingontop:
"encourage healthy cooking, not just cooking that emulates the junk"

So no to pasta and potaotoes now? hmm
I don' get it.
what EXACTLY is it that is classified as healthy eating then?
I think you better spell it out to me. Becuase I thought that meat, veg, fruit, pasta. Nothing wrong with any of those things.
Now you say there is? No more sunday roasts for any of us eh? hmm

SuffolkNWhat Tue 19-Feb-13 13:16:29

I am overweight and my DD is a skinny little thing. I do worry that people think I starve her but she eats very well, she has suitable portion sizes for her age and loves fruit and veg. She is always on the go etc

I was exactly the same at her age and was thin until the age of 15 when my knee injury put stop to a lot of my regular exercise plus the giant boobs gene kicked in

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Tue 19-Feb-13 13:22:43

Me too oblamov, but I know my eating's messed up and would love someone to spell it out for me as that's what I thought!

Wossname Tue 19-Feb-13 13:27:37

I think I have no real idea of portion size. Dh has completely overwhelmed me with the amount of food he eats and I struggle to judge how much to give dc. Dh eats an entire pizza followed by a family sized bar of chocolate. If he says he's having a sandwich he means a huge French loaf with a tonne of meat on it. Its kind of blurred for me what is a normal size meal. My mum gave me a roast dinner last week that had a teaspoon of peas, a small slice of chicken and two small potatoes- i have no idea if that is small meal or a normal size meal. But i really don't want to pass that on to my child.

Tulahoob Tue 19-Feb-13 13:28:00

Children are meant to be 'skinny' though. Many children have a naturally fast metabolism and can eat a fair amount and still be skinny, as they need lots of calories to grow and develop.

Which then begs the question, exactly how much are some overweight children eating each day to be as overweight as they are?

hamdangle Tue 19-Feb-13 13:32:15

Use the 'eatwell' plate as a guide. A third of your plate should be veg or salad and a third should be carbs but try to use wholemeal rice, pasta, bread instead of white. Roast dinners are fine but if you have a ton of meat with fat on, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and some lonely peas on the side then you need to think again!

I think the attitude of many parents towards children finishing a plate of food is problematic too.

When I visited my cousins house as a child I was served a huge plate of food and not allowed to leave th ed table til it was cleared. Unsurprisingly 3 out of their 4 children arr overweight as adults.

As long as my kids have had a few mouthfuls they are never pushed to eat beyond the point they feel full. Sometimes they feel full after half a plate (child sized) but others will ask for more. I let them be the judge and all three are a healthy weight.

I think the culture of saying 'just eat the last few bites' does more damage than people realise.... Everytime you force a child to eat past full their stomache stretches a little bit, do it constantly and you end up with a six year old eating adult portions of food.

Wossname Tue 19-Feb-13 13:36:10

Oh me and the kids eat well, i have just left husband to it really. We don't eat white carbs, have lots of fruit and veg, no puddings or anything, nice home made soups, veggie stews with pulses etc. The actual food is good and cooked healthily but I think i do make mistakes with portion size, am getting more aware of it though.

shewhowines Tue 19-Feb-13 13:38:06

My DD was a huge chubby baby but seems to have a built in "stop" button. My average baby DS has no stop button. I have to be that button for him.

It should be the other way round surely. confused

forevergreek Tue 19-Feb-13 13:41:04

I think it's the snacking culture. My two are pre school age, it wouldn't occur to me to take a snack out with us.

They eat breakfast/ lunch/ dinner and have a set snack time around 3.30 ish.

If they are eating a good breakfast of say porridge or boiled eggs and toast, then they easily last until lunch. They have honestly never asked for food/ snacks.. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, I suppose they get fed approx every 4 hours automatically so aren't hungry.
Have you ever read 'French children don't throw food'?. It's has some unusual ideas but also emphasises the lack of constant snacking in France

I know a lovely lady who also has a two young children. They are constantly having food given to them. An hours trip to the park will involve snacks in buggy, snacks on swing, juice every 5 mins and snacks in buggy on return home. I wouldnt take more than some water. Unfortunatley these children are rather overweight. Also for example I would take a buggy but both mine would walk, with youngest in buggy if tired, both hers will be strapped in a double buggy without the option to toddle ( only a 10 min adult walk). My children will constantly be offered their snacks and usually decline as they just aren't used to it ( and have only eaten breakfast an hour before)

Tulahoob Tue 19-Feb-13 13:48:19

Forevergreek, I think you raise a good point.

I know several children that just never seem to stop eating. One old friend used to bring her children round for an hour or so and would bring a whole carrier bag of food with her as they needed to eat constantly. Said children were maybe on the stocky side but not overweight. But I can see how a child can get overweight with that kind of snacking, plus enormous meals too

hamdangle Tue 19-Feb-13 14:02:47

It's not just healthy snacks but constant treats too. When I was a kid I had a ten pence mix or twenty if I was lucky (showing my age) but now I see children in prams with whole bags of haribo to themselves!!!

I once asked my mum if I could go on a diet - in fact, I asked to go to the doctor to be advised on a diet - because I knew I was overweight. She refused.

WorraLiberty Tue 19-Feb-13 14:05:42

I think it's the snacking culture. My two are pre school age, it wouldn't occur to me to take a snack out with us.

I agree with that.

When I first joined MN I was shocked at how often people were being advised to 'take a snack to keep them occupied'...when they were saying they had to go to a wedding/meeting/event that the kids would be bored at.

Occupying children with food instead of toys/books would never have occurred to me.

But I wonder if there's a link between that and boredom/emotional eating when they get older?

Fakebook Tue 19-Feb-13 14:13:32

I have the opposite problem at the moment with dd. She is surviving on salad and fruit. It's easy to be proud of your child when they eat well, and tbh, if my dd started eating more and grew an appetite I think I'd fall into the trap of continuously being proud because I've never known her to be a good eater.

ubik Tue 19-Feb-13 14:19:29

Actuallly i think snacks are good for preschoolers.

They have high calorie needs compared to the amount of calories they can take in at one meal - small stomachs!

But it's a fine balance.

ubik Tue 19-Feb-13 14:24:17

and the France thing...meh

My French SIL gave her babies powered food til they were 18 months and then they seemed to exist on pasta cooked with no salt with the occasional grating of cheese and broccoli.

French women are thin because of cultural pressure - there isn't the same acceptance of being overweight there is here, people will openly comment on your weight in France.

whois Tue 19-Feb-13 14:29:31

In ikea a few years ago I saw a grossly far woman forcing her toddler to finish his FIFTEEN meatball and chip portion. Total child abuse.

Fat parents with fat kids is disgusting and all about a lack of healthy diet and exercise.

ICBINEG Tue 19-Feb-13 14:30:52

I am with wossname on this one. I worry very much about my DD inheriting my bad relationship with food.

I don't understand how/when you should go from feeding on demand as a baby to limiting their breakfast at 1 yo?

People have stated that if a 1 yo is eating 3 weetabix then that is obviously too much...but if your 1 yo is crying from hunger then surely you are supposed to feed them?

How do you know when you should be following demand and when you should put your foot down?

DD has always been a sparodic eater. One meal she will eat more than me and the next almost nothing at all.

Should I be evening her out? Or shouldn't we be teaching eat when you are hungry and stop when you are not?

Oblomov Tue 19-Feb-13 14:34:18

The snacking culture came about in my childhood.
Before that we nearly all had breakfast lunch and dinner. only.
The came the finger of fudge " the snack you can give to your kids without ruining their appetite".
Now we all snack 24/7
My 2 eat HUGE bowl of cereal, or a full english breakfast, then withing an hour are hungry and have cheese and biscuits, a banana, some crsips and a youghurt. or grapes, or a chocolate bar,a d a muffin, or pate and crackers, or ... drives me NUTS. Then a huge lunch, then a snack, then a huge dinner. I go for meats, steamed veg, carbs, and loads of protein to keep them full. Nothing works.
And as I said, ds1 is skinny as a rake. It costs me a fortune to keep my 2 fed.

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