How to love your body in a world that has everything against it

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Teacher, leave them kids alone

"Go on then, Mummy, just this once. I'm back on my diet tomorrow."

It’s wouldn’t be a shocker if I were to tell you that a UK magazine had airbrushed a cover model’s arms to make them look thinner would it? But if I added that it was Practical Parenting magazine and the cover model is five months old, then how would you feel?

And what if I told you that someone in the US had been denied medical insurance because they were ‘obese’? No matter whether you think it’s right or wrong, or how informed you are about the real causes of obesity, you’d either feel angry towards the health insurers and the government legislation that makes it possible or angry at the obese person for eating too much and not caring about their own health. But when I tell you that the person in question is an infant that’s still breast feeding, then what would you think?

When babies are being airbrushed to remove their chubby creases and refused health care for being too fat when they have yet to eat a solid meal, things have gone far too far. The result is that babies as young as five months old are being taken to gyms across London to work out, to quell the fears of their image conscious yummy mummies who don’t want to be seen to have had a fat child. And even my friends are choosing to give their children Diet Coke, which contains a sweetener that is a chemical drug of questionable safety, rather than give them a drink that contains sugar because they’re worried about their child’s calorie consumption.

I’m usually irritated or angry about this kind of thing when it applies to adults but now I’m actually scared.

I have a lot to say about children and fat and about the massive drive in schools to coerce them into healthy eating that is going to backfire in a way that right now we can’t even imagine. It’s already affecting our kids as what used to be called ‘puppy fat’ precisely because it disappeared when the stored energy was used in adolescent growth spurts, is now staying put into adulthood. Which, if you can drag your eyes away from the fat itself for one second and look at the causes, is a big sign that the eating problems created by the interference with a child’s natural regulation of food are growing in parallel with the ‘healthy eating’ advice churned out and poured into the impressionable brains of our kids via the classroom by the Government and in the media.

Hundreds of medical trials and scientific studies have found that if you interfere with a child’s natural food regulation, you will cause your child to grow up with an eating disorder. Dieting mothers ‘infect’ their daughters with disordered eating and problems with self esteem and negative body image. Coercion into dietary restriction in children causes them to crave the banned foods and makes ‘unhealthy’ food more desirable. Just have a look at one small but widely ignored experiment conducted by the BBC’s The Truth About Food A couple of years ago.

When you give your child an eating disorder by teaching it that foods are good and bad and by trying to control their weight you could give them any of the disorders on the ED scale and that could be anywhere between anorexia and morbid obesity.

And morbid obesity is an eating disorder. Unfortunately, our society’s obsession with image and thinness means that when an eating disorder causes extreme thinness it gets a medical name that describes the disorder itself but when an eating disorder causes extreme fatness, it gets a medical name that describes the most socially unacceptable side effect rather than the actual problem.

And the statistics show that it’s much more likely that you’ll have a child with morbid obesity than anorexia. Luckily for you as a parent, morbid obesity kills your child much more slowly than anorexia does.