The Patch

February 27, 2007

Tuesday 27th February.

Filed under: UK News — Claire @ 1:42 pm

Yesterday, I watched Tonight With Trevor McDonald. There wasn’t a lot of Trevor, which made me slightly sad, but what made me sadder was the subject, which is going to be this week’s UK News ramble.

Connor McCreaddie is eight years old and 15 stone. He is so obese that he can’t tie his own shoelaces. The local authorities have threatened that he may be taken into care because, they argue, letting Connor eat what he wants to the point where his weight affects his health (as it is now beginning to) is tantamount to child abuse.

His mum says she lets him eat the way he does because, if he were only allowed to eat healthy food, he wouldn’t eat at all. She says it’s not her fault he’s so fat. But it is. Children such as Connor, who are exposed only to junk from a young age, are going to prefer fries to fruit when they are given the choice, because generally, they have become familar with the fries, and so when the fruit is presented as an option, children will shun it because it’s new, and they don’t trust it. If she’s been feeding him crisps and biscuits since he was a toddler with no attempt to get him used to fruit and vegetables before he was old enough to form his own solid opinions on food, it’s her fault and there’s no doubt about it. As well as this, part of a healthy lifestyle is exercise, even if he won’t eat the right things, Connor’s Mum could still take him for walks or swimming, there’s no excuses for not doing that.

Aside from that, kids today are pandered to to easily. Connor’s Mum says he refuses to eat healthy food. If that were his only choice, I’m sure he’d give in eventually. But instead, she gives in, handing him another packet of crisps.

I’m not suggesting that it’s all her fault. Kids aren’t introduced to fruit from an early age in the same way as they are with junk food simply because junk is less expensive for a struggling new parent. You can buy a microwave meal from most supermarkets for far less than fruit, so it’s the easier option for a cost conscious Mum. If kids are to eat healthy, that needs to change, so that kids are eating the right things as soon as possible.

So there’s several things at fault, here, but is it child abuse? On Tonight with Trevor McDonald, the presenter (who’s name escapes me), likened Connor’s treatment to that of an overfed dog. She said that the RSPCA is allowed to take away animals who are severely overweight, with the owners facing fines or a ban from keeping animals because the obesity is considered animal cruelty. So it stands to reason that there should be protection for kids too, right? If a parent refuses to or cannot make a child eat healthily, the programme argued, they should be given to someone who can.

They’re probably right. If left the way he is, Connor could develop serious health problems. He’s already showing signs of arthritis from the stress the weight is putting on his joints, and could end up with heart problems of diabetes. The way he’s going, his life will be very short. If his Mum can’t cope, then for his sake, she needs to hand him over, if only for a little while, to someone who can.

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