Obese 8-yr Old to Stay with Mother

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
According to the BBC, Connor McCreaddie, an obese 8 year old boy in the UK will be allowed to stay with his mother rather than being removed and placed in care. Connor weighed just under 220lbs (15st, 8lbs) at his heaviest.

Excuse me? An eight year old that weighs 220lbs? I'm 34, and a bit on the tubby side but I don't even weigh 220 pounds! This child is EIGHT years old, not eighteen...he's 8! How on earth do you allow your child to get that heavy? My parents indulged my brother and I, but we were always made to go outside and play with friends. We were allowed soda, chips, popcorn, pizza, candy. We had a computer (Vic20 and a Commodore 64, woo hoo!) and a video game console. We were raised by just my father from the time I was 13. Despite all of those factors, neither my brother or I weigh the same as this child does. I'm sure others will disagree but in my opinion this borders on child abuse. He's at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes and he's not even a teenager yet.

In the article, Nicola McKeown, Connor's mother states "he refuses to eat fruit, vegetables and salads - he has processed foods. When Connor won't eat anything else, I've got to give him the foods he likes. " Um...correct me if I'm wrong, but who's the parent here? Perhaps it's no longer acceptable but we ate what we were given. Tough nuts if we didn't like it. My parents made us sit at the table, even if they had finished long ago, until we finally ate what was in front of us or it was time for bed. If there was any backtalk or attitude, we were made to stand in a corner (also probably no longer acceptable) or sent to our room. Has she not considered introducing healthier, unprocessed foods gradually into his diet? Sure, give him macaroni and cheese (the dreaded blue box of orange death...) but mix some veggies in with it. A popular one for students during my university days was KD with peas (just thinking about it makes me nauseaus). If you remove the bad food and only give him healthy options, he'll eventually eat them and find ones he enjoys.

So, who's to blame? There's the food producers/fast food restaurants/advertisers who bombard us with commercials, print ads, and product placements in movies and television programs depicting their products and how great our lives would be if only we took one sip, one nibble. Marketing sugary cereals, fizzy drinks, and salt laden foods to children through the use of cartoon characters and "free prizes" should be banned. I don't agree with schools receiving sponsorship money or a new football field from companies like Coca-cola or Pepsi providing the schools sell only their brand of products. Those types of "foods" shouldn't be allowed for sale in schools. Sure, there is (usually) nothing stopping students from heading out the front door and to the nearest Pizza Hut for a soda and a slice. However, it's been proven in a number of schools in both the US and Canada that students' marks, ability to concentrate, and overall health improves in schools that have removed vending machines and provide healthier options in their cafeterias.

Connor himself could take some of the blame. He's making a conscious choice to eat some of the foods he does. However, we have to remember that he's still only eight and can't be expected to do anything other than what he has been taught or shown by example at home. With the amount of peer pressure, its hard to expect an eight year old child to put up much resistance. Plus the fact that he's so heavy must result in a great deal of teasing from other children...often a trigger to overeat.

In my opinion, most obviously his mother bears the full responsibility. She's the one who buys the food, and prepares the meals. Or in their case, likely opens the package and sticks it in the microwave. I have not seen a picture of her but it is likely that she too weighs more than she should. She needs to teach him through example by eating healthier foods and becoming more active. No one is forcing her to buy these types of processed foods, or feed them to her child. She can choose to ignore the advertisements and learn to say no to her son. If he throws a tantrum, let him. Giving in to him teaches him nothing other than how to get his way. If Connor became obese as an adult, he can blame only himself. It's his mother's job to protect him and do what is in his best interest and it seems rather that she's done what's easiest and not necessarily what's best.

I wouldn't want to see him taken away from his mother. That's not going to help him. However, something drastic needs to be done, and done quickly. The article does mention that Connor has slimmed down about a stone thanks to vegetables and some physical activity. As with issues surrounding the sextuplets born prematurely to a Jehovah's witness couple in BC, do we allow the state to intervene or preserve the rights of the parents? The BC Sextuplet issue was a bit different as it involved religious beliefs. I'm leaning towards the state "interfering" with Connor and his family but not, as I stated, to the point of removing him from the home. Ms. McKeown should be made to attend parenting and nutrition classes, and compelled to meet with social service representatives, nutritionists, a pediatrician, and obesity experts. From the sounds of the article, it seems that they have begun to take some of these steps already. It will be interesting to see what happens to Connor and his mother over the course of the next few months. Hopefully, it will have a positive outcome.


Wandering Coyote said...

I saw this on the news today, too, and the article included some photos of what the mom was feeding this poor kid. Dr. Phil also had an episode recently on this subject, too. One kid was taken out of the home and he lost half his size living with his dad who took over from the mom (they were divorced, obviously) and cracked down on the diet.

I agree with everything you said here. Who is the parent? The mom is severely deficient and needs help. But you know, if it didn't change in a reasonable amount of time, I would remove the kid from the home.

And whatever happened with those sextuplets? It hasn't been in the news recently.

Gardenia said...

I would say something is seriously wrong with mom - this would be like slowly poisening your kid....my mother was like that with my son - essentially saying, hey, so what it might kill you, have some if that's what your little mind tells you you want. In other words, I will enable you to your death.

Red said...

While I agree with you that the mother is entirely to blame in this case, I also think that social services in England could get their act together on other, more blatant cases of abuse, like that little girl with cerebral palsy whose parents poured boiling water over her, locked her in the bathroom at night and forced her to eat her own faeces. She was taken away and then returned to the bosom of that loving family. Where she got abused some more.

Having said that, this mother clearly has no idea what she is doing. I have seen some footage of "family life" at the McCreaddie's, and it consisted of mother dishing up chips, more chips, gammon steaks, more chips on the boy's plate. It's all very well to say, "He had a bite off an apple once and he didn't like it. What can I do? I can't starve him." But there is a world of food between fruit/raw vegetables and chips/processed food. How about this woman starts cooking her son a meal?

Tanya said...

This kid has been exposed to these foods for an incredibly long period of time. It is proved that the combination of salt, fats and sugars in the processed stuff that passes for food is highly addictive and that, in fact, one suffers withdrawal if this is removed. This child is an addict. He is hyped up on sugar aka kiddie cocaine and robbed of all motivation. The flora in his stomach is, without a doubt, completely destroyed, leaving him sluggish and constantly tired. So what does someone in that state do? Park themselves in front of the TV to be exposed to hypnotic adverts and so the cycle is repeated.

I am a food addict. I do the same thing. But not even I weigh what that kid weighs.

There is a conspiracy theory related to all this, but I will probably blog that at some later stage.

Tanya said...

Hmm. Take that back. Just worked out I am 15 stone and the kid is about 14... so I weigh more than he does. Then again I am an adult.

scintor said...

Connor McCreaddie has a genetic syndrome which causes him to be both abnormally tall as well as abnormally heavy. If you pay attention to his statistics stated in the story, you might notice that as well as being heavy, he is nearly a foot taller than an average child his age. There are plenty of diets that can cause someone to be overweight. There is no diet in the world that can cause a child to grow a foot taller than normal by age eight.
How do I know that he has a genetic disorder and is not just a glutton? I have a child that is just a few months younger than him that could be his twin. Other than hair color, they look identical. He was born right at average length and weight, but by his two month check-up he was off the charts and has stayed that way.
After taking him to numerous doctors who had no idea what was wrong with him, we finally ended up at the genetics department of Children's Hospital of San Diego. The doctor ran many tests and concluded that he has a genetic disorder. Unfortunately, it is not a common enough disorder to have been named or studied, much less a cure or treatment to have been found.
His mother and I been have been married and together all of his life, and have worked constantly on his weight issues all of his life to no avail.
I cannot speak for Connor but my son has mild Autism and it is very difficult to change his habits. We have been working very hard to add foods to his diet, but have had very little success. He does dislike new foods, he is afraid of them.
If you will notice from the story, Connor does not eat large amounts of sweets and treats, but large amounts of meats. This is not something that a self indulgent glutton does. His mother also states that he is constantly hungry. Again, this is not consistant with the glutton. Gluttons eat when they are bored or anxious, not when they are hungry. (This has been shown in scientific studies.) There are gluttons around who are overweight because of personal habits, but if you look carefully, Connor does not seem to be among them.


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