How should I tell my children they’re fat? –

When her 8-year-old daughter started a new school in a new town, Kim was heartbroken – but not altogether surprised – when she came home after her first day and said some older boys had called her fat.

“We used to live in a small village and she went to the local infant school where she’d known all her classmates from NCT and playgroup days,” says Kim. “She’s always been plumper than the other children – I’m also a bit overweight – but they genuinely didn’t notice or care.

“When we moved for my husband’s job and she started her new school, it was a wake-up call. She was clearly bigger than the other children and, for the first time ever, they did notice – and they teased her for it. I wanted to help her lose weight, but I didn’t want to damage her self-esteem.”

It’s a common concern. I have two daughters myself – aged four and seven – and I’ve talked to them about everything from stranger danger to death (when our neighbour’s cat died, it prompted lots of questions). But I shy away from talking about their weight, fearful of making them feel bad about their bodies or, worse, triggering an eating disorder.

But is this fear making our children fatter? Possibly. A large study from Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced this week that 4.54 million British children are currently overweight or obese, which is a leap from 2.66 million in 1975.


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