Posts Tagged ‘Weight’

The Other “F” Word

January 21, 2020

The first line in my well-received new novel is, “I’m so fat.”

It elicits cheeky giggles whenever I used to read it out. Kids are not used to hearing that word anymore and are especially surprised that a major character in a kid’s book nonchalantly expresses such a candid self-reflection.

By the end of the first page, my audience grows to love the character and appreciate his honesty. Cheeky giggles are replaced with unabashed giggles. Finally, a character that feels comfortable to express the thoughts that many of us feel on a daily basis – seems to be the consensus.

When I first started reading the then-unfinished manuscript, a student approached me and told me how much the character of Jake meant to her. She told me that she had been ignored and disrespected because of her weight and it was inspiring to see those very same students that have ostracised her completely warmed to the fat character and instantly accepted him. She told me it gives her hope that the overweight kid can achieve some positive attention for a change.

I asked her what her name was.

“Nina”, she replied.

I told her I would name one of the major characters “Nina” because her words had moved me so much.

Nina is probably an adult now and probably has no recollection of that day and the origins of her namesake in my book. But her reaction has not been unique.

As a teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to read my book to thousands of students along the journey. There is a good reason why the word “fat” is frowned upon and there is a logic behind society’s reluctance to explicitly draw attention to weight.

But fat people know they are fat and are looking for a character that can own up to it and then prosecute the case why being overweight should never overshadow a person’s spirit, wisdom and achievements.

Enter Jake Archibald and the book, My Favourite Comedian.

Thank you, Nina!


Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.



Father Considered Too Obese to Keep His Kids

June 23, 2012

A person should never lose his children because of their weight:

The problem with being a credible hulk is no matter how credible the story, he’s still a hulk.

Such is the hard truth for an obese Ottawa dad deemed too fat to keep his kids.

We’ll call him Dad because he can’t be named or identified.

Dad, 38, claims there’s no adequate oversight of Children’s Aid judgements in this province.

His two sons – age 5 and 6 – have been put up for adoption. He’s not been granted custody because – among other things – he’s 360 lbs and has been as much as 525 lbs.

It appears the judge used Dad’s obesity as a major reason as to why he can’t have custody of his kids. That’s created a lot of chatter and created a debate about whether obese people make good parents.

The judge may have some good reasons for not allowing this man to be with his children but his obesity should not be a factor.

We Should be Promoting Health Instead of Focusing on Obesity

June 21, 2012

It seems that we have given up on promoting healthy lifestyles and educating our students about nutrition. It’s now all about avoiding obesity:

The American Medical Association on Wednesday put its weight behind requiring yearly instruction aimed at preventing obesity for public schoolchildren and teens.

The nation’s largest physicians group agreed to support legislation that would require classes in causes, consequences and prevention of obesity for first through 12th graders. Doctors will be encouraged to volunteer their time to help with that under the new policy adopted on the final day of the AMA’s annual policymaking meeting.

It’s Time to Change the Culture of the Classroom

January 5, 2012

I have a confession to make. As driven as I am to help my students master the curriculum, there is something more important to me than their academic achievement. I would not be even remotely satisfied if my students were at or above the national standard in numeracy and literacy if they also happened to be bullying, bullied or struggling to cope with everyday life. Conversely, if my students were below national standards but were functioning well and getting along with each other, I would be far more satisfied.

That’s not to say that I don’t understand that a vital function of my job is to educate. I know that all too well. It’s just that I wont let that distract me from my mission in setting up a classroom that is caring, friendly and allows each child to express themselves in their own unique way.

I am sick and tired of reading about how bullying is causing kids as young as 7 to diet. It infuriates me that so little is done by teachers to protect young kids from this stigma and prevent bullies from causing distress. I know what I am claiming will be seen as a gross generalisation, but how many teachers are prepared to overlook a hurtful comment about weight or ignore the activity by the “in-crowd?”

No classroom should have an “in-crowd”. In-groups cannot exist without a readily defined “out-group”. It is a teacher’s job to foster a classroom environment without such divisions. It is more important than any equation or scientific experiment.

Award Slim Kids Higher Marks: Dukan

January 4, 2012

It is disgusting how some sections of society treat overweight kids. As if the stigma of being overweight in a “body beautiful” obsessed world isn’t hard enough. I am sick to death of reading negative ideas when trying to solve childhood obesity. The latest negative idea, which seeks to reward slim kids by giving them extra marks for no other reason than their body mass index readings, not only compromises the fairness of the exam process but makes children already suffering from feeling neglected and judged, feel like dirt.

Pierre Dukan, the nutritionist behind the popular but controversial Dukan diet, has suggested that France tackle child obesity by giving extra exam marks for slimness.

Dukan, who has sold 8 million copies of his diet book worldwide, made the proposal in a 250-page book called ‘An Open Letter to the Future President’, which he sent out on Tuesday to 16 candidates for France’s presidential election.

The plan calls for high school students to be allowed to take a so-called “ideal weight” option in their final year exams, the “baccalaureat”, under which they would earn extra points if they kept a body mass index (BMI) of between 18 and 25.

Those already overweight at the start of the two-year course would score double points if they managed to slim down over a period of two years.

“It’s a fantastic motivator,” Dukan told Reuters.

When we even consider adopting methods like Dukan’s we do a monumental disservice to kids struggling with their weight. These kids are often well-mannered, generous, talented and caring individuals. These are traits we should be focussing on, not weight! You will never see a suggestion that caring, empathetic, selfless and considerate kids get extra marks. These qualities pale into insignificance compared to a person’s weight.

When we employ negative inducements to entice children to lose weight, we not only make it harder for them to succeed but we also make them feel not good enough.

My view (as espoused in my novel) is that whilst I hope our overweight children are successful in losing their excess kilos, either way, let’s not let weight distract us from the qualities and unique characteristics of the person.

Whilst childhood obesity isn’t ideal, ignoring who the child is and concentrating on how much they weigh, is infinitely worse.

Law Requiring Schools to Weigh Students Must Be Repealed

October 24, 2011

You have got to be kidding me!  How can so-called intelligent adults pass a law so downright cruel?  Sometimes I think adults take advantage of the resilience of children.  They think they can impose great humiliation on poor, naive children, without any long-term cost.

Well I have news for you – children, like adults, don’t like being made to feel ugly, different or unworthy.  So why on earth would you pass a law that mandates schools to weigh children so that their weight can be compared with others?

A state law requiring schools to measure a child’s height and weight to find out how they stack up against their peers has generated plenty of controversy, but not a lot of local participation.

School officials say the law’s aim to combat childhood obesity is a worthy cause, but its approach is questionable.

The law measures body mass index, which is calculated from height and weight and given as a percentile. It’s generally a snapshot of a person’s overall body fat, but many argue it doesn’t take into account individual body types or other health risks.

Schools are required to take those measurements for students in kindergarten, third, fifth and ninth grades, then report that data to the Ohio Department of Health and mail the results to parents.

State education officials say similar health screenings, such as hearing and vision tests, have been done for many years with the results kept private.

What if the law was to include Ohio politicians?  What if they were forced to step on the scale in front of their peers and were measured for all to see?

Yes, privacy might be assured, but children aren’t stupid.  They know why they are being measured, and the humiliation of the procedure will not be lost on the overweight.

This plan is doomed to failure.

My wish, as idealistic as it sounds, is to make our children comfortable with who they are, regardless of their weight.  Whilst I strongly advocate educating children about healthy eating choices and encouraging active lifestyles, I am even more concerned about the inner wellbeing of the child.  To me, the tragedy is not that there are obese children, but that there are children who feel unworthy, ugly and hopeless because of their weight.

It’s time to get rid of the scales and let our children know that their worth is not the sum total of what they weigh, but rather, who they are and how they treat others.

Children To Be Taken Away From Parents Because of Their Weight

September 5, 2011

There is no doubt that social workers are unheralded and deserve much credit for the work that they do.  But having said that, I can’t hide my displeasure at their willingness to break up families in the name of raising thinner kids.

It bothers me that people think they know what is best for someone elses children.  It disturbs me that people can justify taking children from their flawed but loving parents and subject them to foster homes and estrangement from their flesh and blood all in the name of helping them to lose weight.

What about what the children want?  Has it ever occurred to them that some children are prepared to deal with the consequences of being severely overweight if it means they can remain with their parents?  Since when did physically healthy foster kids have it much better than obese kids enjoying the closeness of their parents and siblings?

And don’t tell me that parents that raise obese kids are ‘cruel’.  Yes, they have made poor parental decisions and yes their poor decisions may have all kinds of serious consequences for their kids.  But parenting, like weight loss, is not an easy job.  It is unfair to taint parents as ‘cruel’ and ‘unfit to parent’ just because they are not succeeding in breaking bad habits.  No parents wants to see their child suffer.  Some just need a lot more support than others to break bad habits.

Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.

In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the ‘unbearable’ likelihood of never seeing them again.

Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be ‘fostered without contact’ or adopted.

Either way, the family’s only hope of being reunited will be if the children attempt to track down their parents when they become adults.

In an emotional interview, the 42-year-old mother said: ‘We might not be the perfect parents, but we love our children with all our hearts. To face a future where we will never see them again is unbearable.

‘They picked on us because of our size to start with and they just haven’t let go, despite the fact we’ve done everything to lose weight and meet their demands. We’re going to fight this to the bitter end. It feels like even prisoners have more human rights than we do.’

The bullying and stand over tactics by the social workers and courts were deplorable.  Making them send their kids to dance and sport lessons is not sensible at all.  Why wouldn’t the courts give the children a say about whether or not they wanted to go to dance and football?  Ask a young girl suffering from obesity whether or not she would take up dancing, she would invariably say, “Over my dead body.”  Clocking in and out to satisfy court imposed curfews and having social workers stand in corners taking notes at dinnertime just added to the lunacy.

Society is too harsh on parents.  Parenting is a difficult job.  Instead of judging or punishing parents for bad choices, would it be too much trouble to offer real support and encouragement?  Has this couple ever once been offered free appointments with dieticians or councillors?
Soon we are going to get to the stage where it is socially acceptable to classify any parent with even a slightly overweight child as a reckless and sub-standard parent.

Diet Book For Children Is a Concern

August 28, 2011

There are two significant problems with a book like Maggie Goes on a Diet, which is pitched at pre-teens and preaches dieting as the best form of weight loss.

The first problem is that young children should not be dieting.  On the child related health website,, it states that, “Diets that don’t include a variety of nutritious foods, or have too few calories, can be dangerous for kids.”

My second concern is the type of messages we send kids about weight.  At a time when these young children are trying to work out who they are and trying to find a sense of self it is terribly destructive to focus on their weight.  Children who need to lose weight don’t need a novel to tell them that.  They need a support network of loving parents and dietitians who will be able to consider the child’s virtues as well as their struggles.

As much as childhood obesity is a concern, in my view children lacking in confidence is of far greater concern.  It is not sufficient to tear down a childs self-esteem by recommending diets and drawing attention to their weight.  To be motivated to do anything positive one has to be in a positive mindframe.  You have to believe in yourself and think of yourself as worthy of the breakthrough.

I too have written a book (albeit not yet published) that focusses on an obese child.  But I have taken a very different approach.  My child learns not to obsess about his weight and see the bigger picture.  He is not going to get thin tomorrow, but in trying to improve his health he will reflect on the things he has learnt about himself over the course of the journey.

I don’t think the carrot stick for potato chip packet works or is very responsible.

Diet Book Targets 6-12 Year-Olds!

August 18, 2011


You don’t need me to tell you that it is unhealthy for preteens to target.  I would go even further than that and say that it’s unhealthy for preteens to be fixated on their weight to begin with.

Writing a book advocating child dieting is irresponsible and potentially destructive:

A book aimed at helping young children lose weight has outraged an eating disorder help group.

Maggie Goes on a Diet, aimed at 6 to 12 year olds, tells the story of an overweight girl who goes on a diet and goes on to become the school soccer star.

Its Hawaiian publishers pitch the book on their website as an inspirational tale for kids.

“Maggie has so much potential that has been hiding under her extra weight,” the website says.

Deb Schwarz, manager of Eating Difficulties Education Network (EDEN), a New Zealand not-for-profit organisation, says the book could have the opposite effect, and encourage eating disorders among children.

“Research shows poor body image is associated with depression, bullying, eating disorders, risk taking behaviours, and reduced physical activity. Messages like those in the book promote body dissatisfaction.”

She says there are concerns that dieting messages increase disordered eating in children.

This is another sad situation of literature published for the purpose of stirring controversy and making money at the expense of the vulnerable.

Not good enough!

Fighting for Our Kids’ Self-Esteem

March 4, 2011

There’s a reason why kids are suffering from body image related problems in greater numbers than ever before.  We let them.  Society has a responsibility to ensure that the same dreadful affliction that has had diabolical effects on our generation, doesn’t torment the next.  We have made the mistake of valuing people for all the wrong reasons, putting too high a price on weight, shade and form and too little emphasis on character, personality and integrity.  We place celebrities on pedestal so high, we barely notice that we don’t know anything about them.

Our young notice our insecurities and base a world view on them.  They see the pressures their parents feel about appearance and weight and base their own self-worth on precisely these factors.  Before you know it, you’ve got kids as young as five with eating disorders:

Children are suffering from eating disorders at younger and younger ages according to disturbing new research.

Media consumption, peer pressure and negative messages from parents are all contributing to the problem of poor self-image in children, which can trigger eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. According to the Eating Disorder Resource Centre of Ireland, children as young as five are displaying signs of poor body image – and some seven and eight year olds have developed eating disorders.

Experts are stressing that such disorders are not confined to girls, with little boys also being susceptible. Psychologist and author Deirdre Ryan told that parents can unthinkingly pass on negative messages to their children: “I was speaking with a six-year-old boy who said that he wanted to lose weight – when I asked him why he said: ‘I have a wedding coming up’. That message was more than likely passed on by a parent,” she said, “Parents have to be aware of what they are saying, even in front of boys, and not engage in ‘fat talk’. Children of this age are hypersensitive.”

Parents need to be more aware of their relationship with their own bodies as well, Ryan said: “It is starting younger and younger – but it is also affecting people who are older – spreading across the life span. Now, there is an expectation that even if you’re in your 60s you should conform to a certain image. It’s very damaging.”

Our generation has already let ourselves down by buying in to the media driven lie about what a person should aspire to be like.  We have been fooled into believing that life is about striving to beat aging, keeping a toned figure and withstanding lines and wrinkles.  The beauty industry has made a bundle out of us, and all we are left with in return is confusion, pressure, anxiety and in many cases a battered self-image.  Is this what we want for our children?

It’s great to invest in one’s health and appearance, but it is important that these things don’t take over.  Our children need to see that we place more value in perfecting our character than our figure.  That we consider integrity, honesty, empathy and loyalty on a higher level than six packs or breast size.

As a teacher, there is only so much I can do.  As a parent, I have a big job ahead of me.

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