Do Children Need Fat Camps?

A mum wants you and me to pay for her child to go to a fat camp. The child says it’s her mother’s fault she is overweight. The child might be right. Fat is a family issue. The fat camps will probably look at the family system and should not just be used to take fat off the child. The child is about to hit puberty anyway, a time of weight gain, and it looks like mum is struggling too.

There are thousands of overweight children in the UK with parents who were overweight well before birth, passing on a dangerous legacy to their children. There is no quick fix for this.  I have some really bad news to pass to the mother, if you can find her. The evidence is that children who lose weight often put it back on at a dangerous rate unless something in the family changes. The family will need to change their diet and lifestyle – FOREVER.  They will need a great deal of help, to manage an obesogenic food environment, they will need to change their ways of having fun, and they will need new ways of bonding together with other people who don’t care about eating healthy food. Its an enormous ask.

So, if you can get hold of this mother, get her to talk to me first. I will help her to understand that the fat camp isn’t a quick fix. The mother needs more help than the child right now. Get her to give me a call.




Obesity – In Children: A Modern Health Concern

Guest blog provided by Aradhana Pandey

The term “generation gap” is not solely restricted to cultural and moral differences between you and your kids. Parents and children are increasingly separated by contrasting lifestyles and food habits as well. The older generation grew up with limited, but healthier choices of food and spent our days sweating it out with outdoor sports, going on treks and riding bikes in the neighbourhood. Younger people, on the other hand are spoilt for choice with unlimited options of fast food chains cropping up at every nook and corner of every street. Even though your kids may be actively involved in sports and other physical activities, their preferences of calorie laden junk foods over nutritious foods could put them at a risk of obesity and overweight. In the USA post the  2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act passed after Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity, many schools in the United States have upped their nutritional standards and started to offer more servings of fruits and less salt, sugar, saturated fat and processed foods during lunchtime. Sure, that might be helping a great deal, but who’s keeping a strict tab on the foods your kids indulge in outside of school? Are you?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 17% of children and adolescents between the age group of 2-19 years are obese. Yes, that’s surely an alarming statistic given the growing standards of education and awareness about healthy living and lifestyle related health problems. Children who are obese are not only prone to health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and high blood pressure, but also experience social anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. The increased indulgence in fast foods causes children’s poor academic performance, according to a recent study by Ohio State University.

During a child’s early, formative years, a lot of eating habits and food preferences take shape. How often has your little child insisted that you buy him the “treats” he sees in the advertisements that he watches on TV, and how often have you actually given in to his demands? Research shows that the time spent watching TV is directly proportional to the rate of childhood obesity. The article further suggests that advertisements that target children are exploitative in nature. They urge impressionable kids to pester parents and influence their purchase decisions.

It is important that parents inculcate good eating habits in children starting from an early age. The best and the most effective way to do this is by involving your children in the doing things like helping with food preparation and choosing wholesome family meals. Take your child to the supermarket and ask him to pick out the vegetables and fruits he likes.  Teach her  about the benefits of health eating but not in a way which risks creating anxiety, of course. The more involved your child is in the entire process, the more receptive he will be to adopting healthy eating habits.

While you ensure your child enjoys a healthful diet, be also mindful of  her physical activity and sleep, as these factors are also closely linked to obesity. Harvard School of Public Health encourages children to get at least 60 daily minutes of physical movement and about 12 to 14 hours of sleep between 1-3 years of age; 11 to 13 hours between 3–5 years of age; 10 to 11 hours between 5–12 years of age and 8.5 – 9.25 hours of sleep for adolescents. This means not having a TV in the bedroom which we know is linked to stress.

Does TV Make You Fat?

I’m not the only person who enjoys watching TV. However recent research has pointed to the risk of it making us fatter.

Experiments done by Professor Jane Wardle at the University of Surrey has proved that people who eat while watching TV increase snack eating subsequently by a significant amount

Two identical families (2 adults 2 children) were given identical meals before testing computer games. One family ate on their knees in front of the TV and the other family ate at a table. The TV family ate 3 times more snack food (crisps and sweets) than the family who ate at table.


Dolly Mittal and her team reporting in The Psychologist in 2014 have shown that snacking while watching TV, as opposed to snacking while not watching TV, lead women in particular to eat more later on, partly because the effect of the TV is to affect the memory for how much we snacked on earlier.

32 women of unexceptional weight spent 20 minutes eating snack food, half while watching TV and the others while sitting quietly. Later at lunchtime, the TV watchers ate twice as much food as did the women who had snacked while watching TV.  In a follow up study, the researchers investigated the types of TV, from comedy to a boring documentary. The same TV-overeating occurred, and it seemed that the type of programme watched made no difference at all.

Since it is proved that obesity in childhood  is directly related to the number of hours of TV watched per week, it may be useful to take your TV out of the kitchen and stop eating in front of the telly as much as possible, and for life.

I await with interest research on Facebook making us fat… perhaps.

You’re Fat! Fat! Fat, Fat, Fat!

Research from the Met. University of Leeds shows that the middles classes are now fatter than the poor classes who are usually blamed for their ignorance and bad eating choices. Giles Coren writes in the Sunday times that we might now call things we hate “fat” since the word can no longer be disguised as thinly veiled class snobbery.

Janice Turner writing in the Times on the same day says that our obsession with the looks of our politicians is damaging public life, weakening debate and making poor satire. No-one should care if Teresa May loses 20 lbs, thats nothing connected with her job.

Fat still then is a very emotive word, even if is now means “middle class”. I’ve written more about this, please check out my big blog at