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to be aghast at size of neices and nephews?

(71 Posts)
Tittybangbang Sun 17-Aug-08 07:27:18

.... barbecue at SIL's last week, children playing in the pool. Knew they were all overweight but hadn't quite realised just how fat until seeing them in swimming costumes. Her 13 year old is wearing an adult size 16. Two of the younger ones are obese - not overweight, obese. The youngest one has legs that are so fat his thighs rub together at the top and get sore. They all have what looks like adult beer bellies - big, wobbly spare tyres that hang over the tops of their clothes.

SIL is wonderful mum. She's a super-bright, educated woman who is devoted to her children. However, her attitude when it comes to any lifestyle related health issue is this: so and so lived until 90 even though they were obese and smoked - therefore it's not worth fussing over things like smoking/drinking/overeating. I've gone to family parties and sat there silent while they discuss the pointlessness of healthy eating.

As an outsider coming into the family I see things differently. I see that my FIL (obese and hypertensive) has had a stroke at 73 and now has very poor mobility, partly because he weighs 18 stone. I see that MIL (also obese and with type II diabetes) had obesity related complications after hernia surgery and was ill for 2 years following her operation. I see that BIL (overweight, heavy smoker) has had heart attack at 46. I see that other SIL (obese and hypertensive) took 4 years to conceive her first child - something her obstetrician put down to her weight.

The children are constantly being told they're just 'big' and nobody ever says 'no' to them when it comes to food. They are allowed to eat as much as they like - huge portions, seconds of everything, snacks between meals. They are active and sporty (which as far as SIL is concerned makes them healthy, and stops her worrying about their weight), but they'd have to be on olympic training schedules to burn off all the calories they're eating.

Last week when we were round there the children got their new toy out - a Wii Fit. The 8 year old stepped onto it and it told him he was obese. He stepped off it and shoved it back into the box. He looked quite taken aback. I don't think SIL realised when she bought it that it functions as a set of scales and a BMI monitor.

So - am I a health fascist and a worry wart to think that it's betrayal for a parent to allow their children to become really overweight without at least trying to do something about it. I do feel incredibly sorry for these lovely kids, who have been teased at school about their weight. sad

Wanted to add - there was an article in the paper the other day. Apparently 95% of parents of overweight and obese children don't recognise that their children are overweight or obese. How is this possible? I'm very conscious of how much weight my children are carrying. I don't weigh them, but it's easy to see if they've got a 'spare tyre' surely?

laurz75 Sun 17-Aug-08 07:33:51

You're in a very difficult position. I remember when my niece was little she was HUGE - her mum used to let her have icecream for breakfast if she wanted it!
She is now a beautiful slim teenager. Hopefully the same will happen to your family. Maybe you could get them round for lunch/tea and give them some healthy food and make a big deal of them helping. They may then go home and request it?....

belgo Sun 17-Aug-08 07:40:54

I don't think there's anything you can do. It's absolutely none of your business any way, even if you have the best of intentions.

Bluebutterfly Sun 17-Aug-08 07:41:49

YANBU to be aghast, but you are really not in a position to say something directly about their weight problems. However, when they all start saying that healthy eating is nonsense, they have opened the opportunity for you to say quietly that you disagree and that in your life you try to eat healthily much of the time because regardless of what age you live to, you want the quality of that life to be as high as possible and you feel that you have more energy to get through the day to day by having a balanced diet.

Tittybangbang Sun 17-Aug-08 07:46:39

Unfortunately laurz the children are 13 (nearly 14), 11 and 8 - and overeating is a seriously entrenched habit in that household. It's not so much about the quality of what they're eating (though this is part of it), it's the quantity. Have big issue with dh over this. Everytime his family comes round for a barbecue he cooks 4 times as much food as you need to feed them healthily - and they eat it all. I've said to him 'do you honestly think people need to eat two burgers, sausages, three pieces of chicken, a piece of steak, ribs, rice and peas, greek salad, ice cream, cake and meringues and cream? If you cater for 100000 calories per person for a meal they're bloody going to eat it all. There's never anything left after family parties. I get particularly wound up about his dad - who literally can barely get up the stairs at home because of his size. I watch my SIL piling the food onto his plate, giving him seconds.... thirds.... Sometimes I have to leave the room I get so frustrated by it. shock I don't know how they can love someone as much as they do yet be harming them in this way.

Tittybangbang Sun 17-Aug-08 07:53:27

Bluebutterfly - went on holiday with SIL last year. I kept saying 'no' to my children when they were asking for food in between meals. Explained to SIL that I wanted to do what I could to help my children develop healthy eating habit but that it was tough for me to have to keep putting my foot down. I think she took it as a criticism of her parenting (which I suppose it was in a way) and has been very cool with me ever since. Now I wouldn't say anything else on the subject, ever. I couldn't cope with a family feud. This SIL doesn't like me as it is - don't want to say anything else that will get her back up.

belgo Sun 17-Aug-08 07:55:58

I'm not surprised she took it as a criticism of her parenting skills.

I often have comments from dh's family on my diet and what my children eat, it's incredibly insulting and really pisses me off.

Bluebutterfly Sun 17-Aug-08 07:56:49

Oh well, then as others have said, it is probably not something you can do very much about, except stick to your guns with your own dc's and hope that maybe your neices and nephews will notice the difference in your attitudes to food as they get older.

BreeVanderCampLGJ Sun 17-Aug-08 07:57:04

Yes the BBQ thing always fascinates me.

>>Whats for dinner ? Steak, garlic butter and salad. Lovely, I look forward to it.

>>>>Whats for dinner

Steak, sausages, chicken, coleslaw.

Oh great, we are having a BBQ

I don't get it, I really don't.

mrsruffallo Sun 17-Aug-08 07:58:31

It's obviously a sensitive subjet and I am sure they know that you don't agree.
I would just butoon my lip- after all it really isn't up to you what they eat.
It's asad they've been taught bad eating habits but they are physically active and there is a lot more information around now out of the home which they may pick up on as they get older.
I don't think it's worth falling out with in laws over this.

Bluebutterfly Sun 17-Aug-08 08:01:14

belgo - don't want to cause an argument but she didn't criticise their diet. She commented on her own problems with sticking to her own parenting technique. Surely people are allowed to do that?

If someone wants to engage me in a conversation about how stupid it is to worry about food, then they should not be upset if a) I disagree and b)my disagreement highlights a problem with their own attitude. If her SIL doesn't want to talk about attitudes to food then she shouldn't bring it up.

Bluebutterfly Sun 17-Aug-08 08:03:37

Also, I like how SIL with weight problem is "allowed" to say what she likes including initiating such convos, whilst titty who presumably does not have said weight problem is not allowed to initiate them, even about herself, because she is slim. WTF?

BreeVanderCampLGJ Sun 17-Aug-08 08:08:20

Sorry Belgo, but what is she supposed to do ?

Allow her children to eat between meals, just to make her SIL feel better ??

mrsruffallo Sun 17-Aug-08 08:08:26

That's in laws for you though wink

hercules1 Sun 17-Aug-08 08:49:20

I let my children eat between meals. I've never had a problem with letting them do this. I don't think this in itself is a problem. I have never limited food for either. However it's what they eat that is for me important. Both are in good shape.

As for the op - it is really sad. I hate seeing obsese children. Unless there is a medical reason (I know some with this) then it is a form of abuse/neglet but such a diffiucult area as the parents are usually themselves obese.

lemonstartree Sun 17-Aug-08 08:55:29

actually I find it quite disgusting when I see seriously fat people stuffing themselves with piles of food.

Its greedy and shows a lack of self control.

don't think there is much you can do about it though!

HeadFairy Sun 17-Aug-08 08:56:31

Tricky subject, my aunt nagged her daughter endlessly about eating too much, it was "don't eat that, stop eating bread, don't put butter on that" non stop. My cousin is now a size 24, she rebelled totally against her mothers admonitions and ate and ate and ate. However, neither way is right. To be honest, and this is what I'm worried about you have to set an example. There was something in the paper yesterday about how most obese children have obese parents. Now we're not obese but we're not exactly going to win any prizes for being slimmer of the year either. We're real foodies and love our food but I'm seriously thinking we'll have to change our habits for ds, otherwise he'll grow up eating as much as us.

Your SILs children are copying everything they see around them, they are just doing what's normal for their family and I think unless you can change their families habits you don't have a hope in hell. Now how you go about doing that I don't know...

sarah293 Sun 17-Aug-08 09:06:11

Message withdrawn

ChopsTheDuck Sun 17-Aug-08 09:06:23

getting involved is only going to cause bad feelings. Her attitudes seem deep rooted.
It is so sad though,I hate seeing it. Recently at legoland I saw a girl, must have been about 10 on a school trip with classmates. Towered over them, seriously obese and struggled to fit on a ride. A couple of immaculately turned out mums were pointing and laughing. sad
dd is prone to getting chubby but I just cut out sugary things for a while when I notice her getting podgey. It must be so much harder when a child has gone that far though.

ForeverOptimistic Sun 17-Aug-08 09:07:31

I don't think there is anything you can do. I think unhealthy eating is ingrained in their lifestyle.

barnsleybelle Sun 17-Aug-08 09:24:37

I agree that you shouldn't say anything... although i totally get what you are saying.

I really hate to see children whose parents allow them to become obese. They are setting them up for a potential lifetime of health issues plus weight battles and snide comments. When children are neglected it's called abuse, the same can be said for overfeeding.

The comment situation drives me mad too. My ds is very tall and lean, he eats healthily and is extremely fit and active, just a bean pole like his dad. People seem to think it's ok to comment on the fact that he seems "skinny", but imagine if i replied, "yes, and yours looks so fat"!!! Double standards in my book.

saggyhairyarse Sun 17-Aug-08 09:31:35

In the same vein. I am like this with my DC. I 'deprive' them on what I consider treat foods. One of my rellies would rather her kids ate something than nothing, I would rather mine ate a little bit of something healthy (they would eat more if they were really hungry imo) than lots of junk. Yet eating lots of sweets etc is nothing to do with her DC tooth decay and having a filling hmm

PrettyCandles Sun 17-Aug-08 09:43:18

Don't immediately assume the worst about the OP's ILs. I have known several people who were fat as children, but - presumably because of their active lifestyles - became fit and healthy adults. Some lean, and some not so lean, but not obese. Whereas other fat children that were not sporty or active, remained fat as adults. It's not just setting eating patterns that's important, but also establishing the habit of an active lifestyle.

Moomin Sun 17-Aug-08 09:51:08

But if portion control is so seriously out of control at this age, it's not going to magically get better and more sensible.

Yes, I agree the OP can't say anything, it would really upset me if it was my family/ILs. And agree about the problems with the stats (95% of parents not realising/recognising). Hackles rise when anyone feels that their parenting is being criticised - and the subject of eating/over-eating is almost taboo because of the hostility it is met with by most people.

Unless there is a medical reason for a child becoming obese, then I honestly think it is equal to neglect.

ElfOnTheTopShelf Sun 17-Aug-08 09:55:20


"actually I find it quite disgusting when I see seriously fat people stuffing themselves with piles of food. Its greedy and shows a lack of self control."

Is it just seriously far people that disgusts you in doing this?

I know lots of skinny people who constantly eat, but they're the lucky people who can eat and not put on any weight. Which is just as bad an attitude to have to food.

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