The Fat Kid


Take a good look at those two boys.

One of them is “dangerously overweight”.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of a “dangerously overweight” child, I think of those 50lb two year olds that get paraded around on TV talk shows. I DON’T think of an active 4 year old who is within one inch and one pound of his twin brother (who is considered “normal”…yeah, explain THAT to me.) and who has a common overgrowth syndrome that causes him to have a large frame. I don’t want to play the “he’s got big bones” card but, he has big bones. I do too. I weigh 190 pounds and am considered very overweight as well.

I'm the RUNNER in the tie dye.

Man, just LOOK at me. Clearly they had to cut a hole in the wall to get me out of the house and to the starting line for this 5K. (I came in 10th.) Heifer.

The “overweight” status was given to my son (and myself) through the notoriously inaccurate Body Mass Index calculator. The letter I got said he was in the 99th percentile for BMI. Doesn’t that sound awful?! Well, I looked in to it a little further and noticed something interesting. At his current height and weight, he has a BMI of 18. If he were 6 years old, that would be considered “normal”. Using a growth chart he’s the size of the average….wait for it….6 year old.

Mind boggling! A four year old with an overgrowth condition who is….bigger than his classmates.

I am sure these letters were sent out to all parents with husky children and that alone is a little offensive. I am all for schools encouraging healthy living through nutrious lunches, recess time, sports clubs, and physical education classes but sending home letters to the fatties? Now you are infringing on my territory and my doctor’s territory.  And, PS, I’ve been in my kids’ classroom and can’t remember one single kid who looked grossly overweight. There were a couple chubby little kids but, that’s all they were. LITTLE KIDS. 4 year olds have growth spurts and baby fat. What kind of complex do you want to give parents when they get a nasty-gram that their NORMAL child is suddenly considered fat? If I didn’t know better and didn’t examine this critically, I could come to some very incorrect conclusions about my son’s health. I am sure there will be parents who receive similar letters and will do just that.

Obviously, I am not changing my son’s diet over this. (I checked what he eats against the recommendations on the new food pyramid and his diet is surprisingly spot on what they suggest for a 4 year old.) I am also not enrolling him in toddler spinning or whatever absurd classes are offered to parents afraid of baby fat. He plays outside so much I feel like I have to drag him inside kicking and screaming. (I bet that burns mad calories!)

And most importantly, I am not telling him I ever got this letter. I don’t want him growing up with the body issues I had. My images of myself always involved a lot of “can’t”. I can’t play a female lead in a play because there aren’t any male actors taller than me. I can’t wear skinny jeans because they look ridiculous my feet are so big it would look like canoes sticking out the bottom. I can’t ride a horse because I think I weigh too much and people will laugh at the big girl trying to ride the tiny pony. I can’t be athletic because people will laugh at the big girl huffing and puffing when she runs. I can’t wear heels because I will look like a GIANT. Can’t, can’t, CAN’T. My life was full of self-imposed restrictions because from first grade on I was aware I was different than my friends. When we were weighed in front on the class I realized I was 25 pounds heavier than the next largest girl. (Yes, they seriously weighed us in front of our classmates. $10 says I am not the only one a little scarred by that genius technique.) No one else had to take a day off from school to have ultrasounds in a town 2 hours away because of a quirk of genetics. I was too big to fit in and too shy to feel comfortable sticking out. My childhood was torturous because I was hyper-aware of my size.

I will fight fight FIGHT to make certain this does not happen to my children. Your flawed BMI calculator says my kid is too big? Keep it to your f*cking self. Don’t send it to me. Don’t tell him. He is a good size for his height and age. He doesn’t need a diet. He’s FINE.

And, finally, look at the picture at the top again. Which of my sons do you think we’re talking about? Can’t tell, can you? Exactly my point.


6 thoughts on “The Fat Kid

  1. You are spot on with this, and I am so glad you posted. There are enough issues with childhood self-esteem issues as it is. The average age for eating disorders is lowering, children are terrified to be themselves. You fight this tooth and nail! Every child deserves the right to be healthy, and that means mentally too. Screw the BMI! it’s never done anything but make me feel bad about myself, and it is clearly flawed.

    Hugs and Muffins.

  2. This is crazy! I wonder if they sent letters to kids who are considered small for their age? That is the letter that I would get. My son is 3 and has always been small for his age. The reason for him being small? Both myself and my husband are on the small side. Therefore my son is small but healthy. People comment on his size all the time and I am determined to make sure it doesn’t ever hold him back. I think if I were you I would talk to the school. A school environment should be accepting of healthy kids of all sizes.

  3. Wow… both to the invasive and self-riteous BMI letters your sons’ teachers sent home, and to being weighed in front of the class. I’m a little hazy on how the bmi thing works for little kids… but i’m fairly sure that it’s a thing to do with height vs weight, that changes depending on frame (ie, big vs little boned)… and for adults I’m pretty sure the ideal BMI is closer to 22 (?)
    I hope your sons teacher didnt’ weigh them in front of the class as well, because that seems like a really awful way to encourage children to have good self-esteem.
    I’ve had friends all through highschool and university complaining that they weigh so much and it is baffling. They get these ideas about the perfect 110 lb weight for women from models and actors, which is about as healthy as eating only chocolate for the rest of your life would be.
    And no… definitely no idea which of your children is heavier than the other, and neither of them would even fall into the ‘chubby child’ range, to my mind.

  4. Woah! I cannot believe they are sending those letters home! From what I’ve seen through pictures, I have never thought your boys to be overweight! Growing up with you in classes, I never thought of you being overweight either. You just towered over me! 😉 I think Elijah is going to be a big boy too. He’s already fitting well into 12 mo clothes at 7 mos old. He’s just built like a linebacker.

    It is ridiculous they’re doing BMI testing at such a young age. The BMI scale is way off anyway. Thank heavens you have such a good head on your shoulders. I hope the parents of the other “obese” children are able to look past this & see it for what it is; BS.

    Side note – with those body scans where they measure actual body fat, I have always come back on the high end due to my large chest. Cracks me up a little. 😀

  5. Huh. I don’t think my kids have ever been weighed at school. I do know that my son has been at the 90th+ percentile since he was a baby (he’s now 8) and he’s skinny as a bean pole. He’s just tall for his age is all, and always has been. Your boys look perfect and I absolutely cannot tell which one is “dangerously overweight.” Sometimes common sense just gets left out in the cold.

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