JENNI MURRAY: My mother made me fat by always insisting I cleared my dinner plate
- Jenni Murray shares her thoughts on the UK’s treatment of the word ‘fat’
- READ MORE: How obesity is draining the NHS of up to £14BILLION of much-needed cash every year
Let’s be absolutely clear on what it is we’re talking about here. It’s fat — a word we’re told by experts in the field of obesity we should not use. We should, instead, say ‘Chronic Appetite Dysregulation’. What nonsense. We all know exactly what fat means whatever our age, and children are all too familiar with it.
NHS figures show that more than one in ten children is overweight or obese by the time they start primary school. By the time they reach year six — between ten and 11 years old — the numbers have risen: 23.4 per cent are obese and 14.3 per cent are overweight, and that’s a crying shame.
Every child in school knows what fat means and every child who is fat will suffer. Other children will tease them.
I, a formerly grossly obese woman, know exactly how hurtful the term can be. But we can’t shy away from it. It’s there in common parlance and fancy, novel names for it won’t be heard in the playground. ‘Fatty’ will.
I called the book I wrote about my struggle with my weight Fat Cow, Fat Chance. I had been called ‘fat cow’ in the street on numerous occasions. It was deeply hurtful to hear men call out ‘fat cow! I wouldn’t go there, would you?’
NHS figures show that more than one in ten children is overweight or obese by the time they start primary school. Stock image used
The ‘Fat Chance’ of the title referred to the opportunity to lose half my body weight as a result of drastic metabolic surgery. It was too late, in my early 60s, to get well again in any other way. That is not the case with small children.
This month findings from the University of Bath and the British Dietetic Association revealed your parents can make you fat. In some cases, the problem is simple. Too much junk food is put on the table, often ordered from a takeaway.
Too many hard-pressed parents have never learned to cook a healthy meal with the right balance of protein, vegetables and carbohydrate. It’s too easy to sit a child down with a burger and chips. You can even get the food delivered to your door. No exercise needed at all. There’s no help for parents from the Government, which seems determined to ignore the advice of its ex food tsar Henry Dimbleby to clamp down on junk food with a sugar and salt tax.
In my case it was not the food my mother produced that led to a lifetime of obesity. I was not a fat child. She was a wonderful cook who knew how to make a nutritious meal. She did, though, fit into the pattern demonstrated in the new research. She ruined my relationship with food.
Her portions were always extremely generous. As a small child I was full pretty quickly. I would say: ‘Mum, I’m full. I can’t eat any more.’ She invariably took it as a personal insult.
‘I’ve spent all morning cooking you that beautiful shepherd’s pie. You will finish it. I want to see a clean plate and if you don’t finish it now, you’ll have it this evening.’
I did my best to please her, forcing the food down. Consequently, my ability to listen to my appetite and stop when I was no longer hungry was ruined. Parents must learn not only to provide healthy food, but never too much of it.
My mother also fell into a trap highlighted by the new research, and now included in new national guidelines. She always thought she was fat — she wasn’t. She was constantly going on a diet.
This month findings from the University of Bath and the British Dietetic Association revealed your parents can make you fat. Stock image used
Jenni Murray (pictured) shares her thoughts on the UK’s treatment of the word ‘fat’ as she reflects on her own childhood
I have no doubt her obsession with her weight had a devastating impact on me. I was always worried about how I looked. So began the pattern of diet, lose weight, eat normally again, put on more weight than I had before.
A classic example of a lifelong bad relationship with food.
So, yes, your parents can make you ‘fat’. And there’s no point trying to erase the word — this year it was taken out of all new editions of Roald Dahl’s children’s books. It’s a commonly used word which has real meaning.
We should, though, as parents be aware of the damage we can do through our own behaviour. We need to know that childhood obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, a terrible disease, which can result in sight loss, stroke, kidney failure and loss of limbs.
The food industry could do better in reducing sugar and salt, and junk food should not be advertised to young people. But, in the end it’s a parent’s responsibility to buy healthy food.
It makes sense to talk to children, not about dieting or feeling miserable on a diet or trying to control your weight, but about improving your health. Show them you enjoy exercise (which my mother always said she hated) and do it with them.
A scheme in Sweden offers new parents counselling about nutrition and exercise, starting when the baby is eight months old. An early start can only be a good thing, but it’s never too late.
Just don’t wait till your child is in her 60s, you’re long gone and she has to learn a healthy relationship with food all by herself.
Why be so mean, Your Majesty?
Angela, 65, (pictured) reportedly had to sign a non-disclosure agreement preventing her from writing a third book about life in the Palace, Jennie says
Angela Kelly, the late Queen’s right-hand woman, expected to live in her grace and favour cottage on the Windsor Estate for ever. The King chucked her out and has bought her a house in the Peak District. But there’s a catch.
She’s reportedly had to sign a non-disclosure agreement preventing her from writing a third book about life in the Palace.
Angela is 65. No job and probably not much money. Depriving your mother’s loyal servant of the chance to make a living feels mean, Your Majesty.
It’s a tired trope but one that still holds — that if a woman complaining of rape had a racy sexual history she must have consented. The Law Commission is proposing restrictions on the use of evidence of previous sexual behaviour. It’s about time rape myths were dumped into the bin of history.
Victoria’s right, 11 is too young for make-up
Victoria, who has her own beauty line and is equally evangelical about make-up, refuses to let Harper out of the house in the stuff
Harper Beckham is all of 11 years old and already obsessed with make-up, having perfected the art of ‘contouring’ apparently. However her mother, Victoria, who has her own beauty line and is equally evangelical about make-up, refuses to let her out of the house in the stuff. Quite right too!
All men should be more German!
German is such a great language for creating words that fit every eventuality.
Take Sitzpinkler. It’s a man who sits to urinate and more Germans do it than other Europeans, it seems.
Sixty-two per cent of Germans said they sat compared with 23 per cent of Brits. It’s said to be the most natural position because of the structure of male plumbing. Just imagine. No more having to mop around the toilet. Come on, guys. It’s good for you.
Jennie says that the Theatre Royal Stratford East is urging white people to stay away from a performance of satire Tambo & Bones (pictured)
How bizarre that the Theatre Royal Stratford East is urging white people to stay away from a performance of satire Tambo & Bones. Joan Littlewood, who ran the theatre, must be turning in her grave. Her Theatre Workshop Company’s aim was to be socially and racially diverse.
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