Saturday, 2 February 2008


I was going to reply singularly to the comments made in my post titled 'Everything's big in America' but I think it needs a separate, more visible platform, so I'm posting a reply to everyone who got involved in the debate.

This post produced a lot of comments, both positive and negative but it's important for you to understand that I am making a pertinent observation, particularly about obese kids.

Not all people using wheelchairs are able to walk, I know and not all people who are overweight are just plain greedy with no self-control. Not all so-called junk food is necessarily 'bad' for you. A balanced combination of burgers and exercise will not readily lead to obesity because you use up the calories, so demonising certain foods is stupid. These days, a fast fix of energy is often needed ( I know this because I eat 'junk food' before I go to work) but if it is used up by the body it won't make you fat.

Being rude about overweight people is counter-productive and thoughtless, so let's treat this as a scientific debate and give it a sense of urgency for the sake of our children. We are ALL to blame for what's happening. We have become lazy and greedy in harmony with affluence and development. We seek out the easiest way of life and it is handed to us on a plate: flat screen TV's, video games, warm bedrooms and this crazy illogical fear of a child murderer on every street means we don't play the same way that we used to - we don't do the physical stuff we had to before all that came along.

If you were brought up when you could 'safely' play out on the streets and your mother had to hand-wring the washing you were probably a very lean child. You had no electronic comforts and no distractions at home to keep you in. Homework was probably waiting for you there, so you kept as far away as possible and that meant you played football, ran around, had little gang fights with rival kids or wandered miles away from your street seeking adventure. You all got home safely and you were a few pounds lighter for the experience.

Shockingly, a recent study into the distances children travel when playing outside in London showed that, compared to a few decades ago when the play radius was around a mile, kids were practically confined to their back yards. All because the Press says there is a paedophile on every street. It's worth knowing that this threat has always existed; for example, the term Sweet Fanny Adams is Victorian and refers to a young girl by that name who was abducted from her own garden and killed in broad daylight, so let's not get paranoid. Helping our kids get too fat to breathe when they walk is just as cruel as opening them up to the small risk of something happening to them when they go out and play.

There are plenty of towns in this country where kids still wander away from home and return safely, plenty.

This is my point. What I saw in the States demonstrated our future and I found it depressing and scary. Kids being wheeled around by lazy parents were witnessing adults being wheeled around by themselves, many of whom were just too overweight and lazy to walk. What kind of lesson is that for those kids? It becomes the norm for them and they will grow up using the least energetic method to get from A to B. They will, as a result, and a combination of the modern lifestyle I have outlined above, become fat, overweight and then obese...some of them morbidly so. Their lives will effectively be over and it will happen to younger and younger children all over the modern world.

So, fast food isn't the problem on its own. Technology isn't the problem on its own. Ignorance, fear and laziness...those are the problems.

Thanks to those of you who commented on that post.



Tabitha said...

Don't forget the issue of schools having to sell playing fields, and the wonderful secondary education system which means that most children doing sport in school past the age of 14 will have to do a GCSE in it in order to justify the inclusion in the timetable. Lack of good local sports facilities, crappy weather meaning people would rather be at home, parents working all hours so not having time to take the kids swimming after school/work - it's really no surprise things are headed the way they are.

I get your point about people who can walk using wheelchairs/scooters/prams. It must be infuriating for the genuinely disabled who cannot walk far, if at all, without assistance to see others taking the luxury or working limbs for granted.

miss emma said...

i agree with tabitha about the lack of PE past age 14 in schools. ive just done my GCSes and we did 2 hours of sport every 2 weeks (i did trampolining) but im sure we could have done more because we all got very bored being cramped up in the classrooms.

myself and all the other kids in my area have done and still play out in the street. we tended not to wander further than our road but that was due to the busy main road we live next too. my mum stil even leaves our back door and gate unlocked so it cant be safety that she is worried about! there is no excuse for teenagers to put on weight. i know many that moan about getting fat when all they say they do is walk round the town all day. maybe it has something to do with all the alcohol and crisps they tend to consumer on a friday night!

glad that you are back xf and thanks again for answering all my en#mail queries! x

Fiz said...

My daughter is now in 6th form but is chosing to do sport to keep slim and she also does 3 hours dance classes a week. My elder daughter is working full time and only ever has time to grab a burger (all that's available, unless you count Kentucky Fried Cat) and she has put on weight - she makes lots of resolutions but does nothing, but is now a film projectionist instead of a a multifunticiary in a cinema, and one of her friends doing projection has lost two stone in a couple of months running up and downstairs and my daughter hopes the same will happen to her!

Anonymous said...

"showed that, compared to a few decades ago when the play radius was around a mile, kids were practically confined to their back yards." Not just because of paedophiles, I watched a programme the other day called 'Why Kids Kill' and most of the gangs were to scared to go out of their own estate because they would get into a 'turf war'

Superman! said...

Ignorance... On diet doctors the other day, there was a morbidly obese lady as the patient, and she was so ignorant it actually really annoyed me. I don't have a problem with people who are fat as long as they are trying to do something about it. Anyway, the lady refused to loose any weight, even though it would kill her before she was 40, because she could 'walk out of here and be killed by a bus'. The lady had 4 young children, now I don't think that's the attitude to take at all, and I think that she was being incredibly selfish. Grrr! That got me so frustrated!!