As if the threat of being bullied and labelled a fattie is not enough, there is now the risk that the state and its agents will take a child into care if that child is deemed “obese”. Over the last few days, the press has carried reports of how a young boy, weighing in at a powerful 14-stone (196 lbs/ 89 kg), narrowly avoided such a fate.
My first instinctive belief is that the state has no business telling us about what should be the shape of our butts. In the case of children, responsibility lies with the parents, and there has to be real and sustained proof of neglect and abuse to trigger any form of intervention. In nearly all cases, my view is that the “cure” of taking an “obese” child into care will far worse than the supposed problem. Yes, extreme obesity, as measured in terms of excess fat vis a vis overall body shape, is not something to laugh at or dismiss. Although I have been lucky and born with a slim physique, I still try to build on that good fortune by keeping fit. There’s no doubt that many people in Britain are unhealthily overweight. Lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyles and the demise of hard, physical labour all have an effect. But while I would encourage folk to look after themselves, ultimately, what people choose to do with their lives is their business, not mine. In the case of this youngster, realising that he is overweight should be incentive enough to do something about it. His parents may not be the brightest lights in the harbour, but from what I have read, they plainly adore their son, although they probably could exert rather a stricter control over his diet.
As we have also found in so many cases, paternalistic state actions often start to “protect the kids” and end up spreading towards adults as well. I hope this young man learns to take pride in his own health and can look back in future to this time in his life as one where he learned to control his appetite and also realise how dangerous the state has become. There are plenty worse things than having a large tummy, that is for sure.