I watched a rather depressing programme last night about this kid who aged 8 weighs 15 stone.
The kid lives with his 18 year old (normal sized) sister and his mum. Mum is obviously chronically depressed and unable to face the day without having a smoke under the bed covers first thing each day. The house is filthy, probably due to the chip fat which must be inches thick on the kitchen walls. Grandma has to come round every day or otherwise the 8 year old would never get out to school; he can't even dress himself being for example unable to reach his feet to put his shoes and socks on. He misses about a quarter of his schooling anyway. I suspect mum finds it easier to let him stay away. He will get bullied if he goes I suppose, but by not going he sits at home eating and therefore gets fatter - a vicious circle indeed.
Today there is a Child Protection Conference to decide if he should be taken into care. He won't be. The law says kids are best off with their natural families except in extreme cases of abuse, and some one will stand up and point to how much his mum and nan love him, never mind that their way of demonstrating their love - giving him more food - means they are killing him. He will get additional input from social workers and health professionals, but that will be undermined by his family giving in to his demands at home. As usual the professionals have left it too late to take effective action, and will already have given mum very many 'last' chances.*
I know this might sound cynical. Easy for me to say stop buying the sodding biscuits and crisps. (At least if he was forced to steal them he would get some exercise because he would be forced to walk to the shop to do his lifting...and maybe to run away afterwards pursued by store detective)I do have sympathy for his mum who is clearly in need of medical help herself.
When I was at primary school there was only one fat child in the school. We were all told it wasn't her fault, it was her 'glands' and we didn't bully her - we felt sorry for her. The programme ended with a comment from Trevor MacDonald that the kid will be seeing a specialist this week to ascertain if he too has a medical problem. It took 8 years for them to think he might have a medical problem??? I despair!
Of course, one person got off very lightly (if lightly is an appropriate word to use in this context). Where was dad? Yes, families break up, but does that mean that his dad has no responsibility to call round at weekends and take his son out to kick a ball around, ride a bike or just go out walking?
We are told that in a few years time something like 1 in 6 of all our British kids will be obese. Do we propose the answer is to take all these children into care? Or do we post health monitors on full time duty in the families with plump kids? Not with the resources local authorities have we don't. I think we have a whole generation - if not 2 generations - who have lost parenting skills. They no longer know how to cook basic nutrious meals, let alone how to sya 'No' to their little darlings. ( I know this isn't exactly a healthy food item but as an aside I think in 20 years time no one still living will know how to make pastry - it will all be purchased ready made).
Initiatives on healthy eating and promoting exercise as fun seem to me to be bolting the proverbial door after the horse has well and truly legged it. Gawd knows. May be we just give up and start making public transport seats wider right now. But there is something horribly sobering in the fact that our kids may have a shorter life expectancy than we have due to the life styles so many of us live today.
* I don't know this of course. I am just making assumptions based on my own previous experience.
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