by ALANA HOUSE
OK, there, I’ve said it. So shoot me.
It feels like some shameful secret I’m supposed to hide – my joy that my children have strong, lithe, healthy bodies.
When I enter my local aquatic centre, I shudder at the size of some of the kids in their cossies. I murmur a prayer of thanks that mine aren’t carrying all those spare tyres.
Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t love my children less if they were large. They will always be my sweethearts, no matter what. And I will always foster their self-esteem, no matter what. But I really hope – for their sakes – that they stay thin.
Perhaps “thin” is the wrong word. It’s been bastardised to mean size sub-size-zero celebrities tottering down beaches in bikinis with every rib clearly showing.
What’s the word I’m looking for then? One that means “not fat” … whatever it is, that’s what I want my kids to stay.
I wish “thin” hadn’t become such a corrupted, dirty word. It’s the way nature/God had in mind when it/he/she created us. He/she meant us to be lean, mean fighting machines, not sweating, shuffling mounds of fat.
Australia is one of the fattest nations in the world – fourteen million Aussies are overweight or obese – yet we encourage our children to embrace their shape, no matter what.
I have difficulty stomaching articles like “Making the case for size acceptance”, which makes dubious points like “fat people eat the same as thin people”. I’m sure they do sometimes, there are medical conditions that mean obesity is unavoidable. Or Plus-size bodies what is wrong with them anyway? with its outrage that “50% of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller”.
I think they’re missing the scary point. If weight gain continues at current levels, by 2025, close to 80% of all Australian adults and a third of all children will be overweight or obese according to a study by Monash University. Obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia. It causes diabetes, heart, stroke and vascular diseases.
Health disorders in children like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, hypertension and sleep apnea can be directly attributed to childhood obesity.