Children's HealthMedia WatchNewsletterObesity

How does a 6 year old become 8 stone?

During the October half term (2015) holidays, a mum appeared on breakfast TV’s “This Morning” show, under the name of ‘Jane’. She was there to support proposals for an annual school health check to detect obesity as early as possible.

Jane’s real name turned out to be Sam and her six year old boy, Kardel, was the reason Sam was supportive of the idea of an MoT. Sam thought that such a checkup could prevent other families from getting into the same situation as she found herself: with a six year old who weighed eight stone.

Kardel is only 3 foot 10. His weight, therefore, puts him in the 99th percentile for his height. This means, among 100 children of the same age, Kardel would be the most overweight.

Following comments made on social media after the programme, Sam waived her anonymity to defend her position. Viewers, not unreasonably, were wondering how a six year old could become so overweight and why Sam thought the school would be able to prevent something that she had overseen.

The Daily Mail secured an interview with Sam and the reporter, Rebecca Hardy, got to the heart of the problem simply by looking at the food available at home:

We start by examining the contents of her fridge: an opened packet of pepperoni (‘He has that with a bit of cheese on toast, but he has tomatoes, too'), two sponge puddings (‘They’re not mine, they’re my daughter’s, Nina, who lives three doors down the road'), hummus (unopened), coleslaw, pork pies, a saucepan of leftover rice, burgers, corned beef, a bag of apples and some carrots.

The fridge door is stuffed with squidgy bottles of mayonnaise, barbecue sauce and so on, while the cupboards are stocked with tins of spaghetti hoops, beans, tuna and numerous packets of breakfast cereals, including the chocolate-flavoured children’s favourites Weetos and Coco Pops. There’s not so much as a floret of broccoli to be seen.”

That’s at home. Away from home, things are no better. Nina is Sam’s 26 year old daughter from a previous relationship. Kardel had eaten at Nina’s that day: “Toast and beans and onions, chocolate, a doughnut and Pringles”.

This tragic and avoidable story made me think of the top tips that I would give parents to avoid their child becoming more obese than 99% of their peers:


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