“What a fat child you have! So huggable! May I hug her?”
“She’s such a big child! I don’t think I can lift her! “
Her parents’ smile ran from ear to ear; so proud of their pretty overweight child. Everyone remarked how chubby and cute she was. Her cheeks had become like pink overgrown apples and Pooh Bear would be put to shame with the size of her body. So young and yet SO big. Everyone was so delighted with fat Kat; . . . except me.
Every time I see Fat Kat (as she is called) and kids like her, I only feel sadness and a certain kind of dread which fills my heart. My mind is silently wailing in opposition; NO to obesity, NO to overweight children. It’s a deadly or debilitating condition which could ruin your children or their future; or both. It’s not always a pretty state of affairs.
But how do you tell proud parents they could be the ones killing their children little by little? How do you tell parents it’s not cool to make hippos of their kids? That it’s a health hazard; and with possible psychosocial problems in the future?
Every time I see an overweight child, my mind would wander to a 6-year old girl whose name was Cecil. Yes, past tense. She did not make it past age 6; she suffered from obesity. She weighed two times her ideal weight and her heart got wrapped in fat. Together with high school friends, we used to visit Cecil in her kindergarten class during recess. She was such a friendly, sweet and cute, but overweight girl. We loved to hug her; she enjoyed it, too. But one day, she suddenly didn’t show up in school anymore. Heart complications; then death.
Jed, my guy friend’s son is only aged 4, but is often mistaken as 6-8 years old. His big sized shirt is the same size as his elder brother’s. He is often rushed to the doctor or hospital for breathing problems, asthma, and broncho pneumonia. He was exempted from Physical Education class because of his condition.
Another friend sent me messages about her young teenage son, aged 13, who’s 195 pounds; and who seems to be having severe depression attacks. It has her worried because he wants to stop going to school and prefers to stay locked up in his room. No friends? No social life? Low self esteem? Yes to all.
Obesity, overweight, fat. We don’t need further enlightenment to realize obesity affects people’s health and well-being. Recent survey has shown childhood obesity alone has tripled in the past 30 years. The rising prevalence of obesity should have us thinking deeper as it has become a serious public health concern.
If we are going to really consider the problem regarding the obesity epidemic, there are only two important factors; improper kind of food and lack of daily exercise. It cannot be overlooked that fast food diets and a sedentary lifestyle has steadily raised the number of overweight children having health issues that were ordinarily associated with adults: heart diseases, diabetes and hypertension; perhaps even rheumatoid arthritis.
Other than life-threatening conditions aligned with childhood obesity, there are also emotional and psychological effects which could mar our children during their entire lifetime. Do we want them teased by their peers? Harassed? Discriminated? Have low self-esteem? Do we want our kids depressed and forlorn? Do we want them sick , and worse, the possibility of dying ahead of their peers?
Are we really loving our children properly when we shower them with so much food; more than what they really need? When we hesitate to let them engage in sports because they might get hurt or get tired, are we really thinking of their well-being? If they grow up overweight and start experiencing weight-related challenges, would we have time to undo our mistakes? From child obesity to teen obesity; is that still cute?
Let this be a wake up call to parents with overweight children. Prepare nutritionally balanced meals instead of fast food and junkies. Increase your children’s physical activities. Be the good example to your kids. Create an active family life and benefit from the bonding moments, too. Hike or jog together; play sports with them and encourage them to become involved in any sports that take their fancy. Conditioning your children to be fit and active while still young will surely create continuous healthy habits.
As parents, let’s reflect more on childhood obesity as an urgent problem, and not as a natural course of parental pampering. Let’s do something about it; while it is not yet too late!