Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Childhood Obesity: I Was an Unhappy Fat Kid

Even our dogs are fatBack in the 60’s, when I was in 4th grade, I weighed 120 pounds.  I remember this as if it was yesterday because we had to get weighed at school in front of the rest of the kids and I was so embarassed. 

When I was in the 7th grade,  I was 170 pounds. 

Does anyone see a pattern here? 

Some kids made unkind remarks about it to my face (always boys).  My best friend never said a thing. 

I knew I was fat.  What I didn’t know was how to be unfat. And believe me, I wanted to be unfat like everyone else.  I wanted to be normal so I would not stand out.

This is what every kid really wants — to fit in.  Why else does every teenager want to have the “right” jeans or athletic shoes, or whatever. Those that are different, in my opinion, choose to accept their fate and play it up (i.e. act like it was their choice) because they don’t know how to change or to fit in.

What got me on my “grandstand” about this topic was an article in today’s Wall Street Journal called “In Obesity Wars, A New Backlash — A Western town pushed schoolkids to eat right and exercise more.  Did it go too far?”

They talked about parents who got upset because their kids were singled out to receive an invitation to attend an after-school exercise session because they met a certain “overweight criteria”.  They said that their kids were embarassed to get the letters and some kids didn’t even know that they were overweight.

Let me let you in on a secret.  These kids know they are overweight.  And so do their parents. They are ignoring this fact because they feel helpless to change the situation and are lashing out at anything that might make them have to reevaluate their decision.

The happiest day of my life was when my mother asked me if I wanted to join Weight Watchers.  Again, I’ll never forget going to that first meeting and getting hope (and a plan) to help me achieve my goal. 

My message to you is do what is right for your kids — they may not know how to communicate this to you, so I am doing it for you.  They want to be “normal” and being thin is part of that equation.  Help them get there.

Being fat is an epidemic in our country.  Even our dogs are fat. Why?  People are lazy.  They don’t want to change their habits of being sedentary, eating large portions, and eating the wrong kinds of food.

I believe in tough love.  Our county needs a wake up call.  Get off your high horse and start walking.

  1. CoCo, Three cheers! Great piece! I’m glad you mentioned the parents’ role in making the changes. I am so tired of people expecting the schools to do that (and everything else).
    There is an epidemic, but without positive home involvement nothing will change.
    Check out my guest commentary (06/15/06) at Tucson Weekly


  2. Rita, what a great article you wrote for the Tucson Weekly about the “food police” in schools. That was in 2006 and it is still a hot topic today.

    Their hearts are in the right place but it is not as easy, as they have found out, to get others to lose weight.

    A person must “really” want to lose weight. Not to please others, but to please themselves. If they don’t internalize this desire, they will forever find themselves “cheating” when others are not watching.

    Eliminating poor food choices at school, by putting healthy choices in vending machines, is fine with me. For example, at home, I have a weakness for potato chips when they are in the cupboard, but am not tempted when they are not there. But you are right, it is not food that is bad, it is how much of it you eat and what else you eat to balance out your nutrition throughout the day.

    School is only 6 hours out of their day. Kids must also change their lifestyle at home for long term results, and for this, their parents must participate.

Leave a Reply