Always the Fat Kid, subtitled “The Truth About the Enduring Effects of Childhood Obesity,” was written by authors who see the condition as stemming from poor lifestyle choices. Jacob Warren and K. Bryant Smalley are co-directors of the Rural Health Research Institute, which resides at Georgia Southern University. The publisher describes the message as “urgent, timely, and authoritative,” adding:
Theirs is a clarion call for parents to have “the talk” with their kids, which medical professionals say is a harder topic to address than sex or drugs.
The same thought is expressed in a different way by Kirkus Reviews:
They also argue that parents are unwilling to speak honestly to their children about weight and that even doctors are instructed to avoid the topic out of fear of insulting or upsetting children.
The authors have identified “The Fat Kid Syndrome,” a synthesis of physical and psychological problems. Some of the indicators are diabetes, high blood pressure, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and compulsive behaviors. Such children feel the effects of being seen as “other” and “less than.”
The authors aim to raise awareness about the current and future consequences of letting this state of affairs continue, so the work fits right in with Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (yes, every September!)
On the practical side, there are pointers to useful information about programs designed for children, including nutrition, fitness, and weight management. The Kirkus Reviews caveat paragraph says,
[E]ven the authors acknowledge that there hasn’t been enough time to research the long-term effects of the current epidemic. Therefore, much of what Smalley and Warren write about is speculation. They also come dangerously close to overgeneralizing the experience of obesity; certainly not all “fat kids” will suffer the extremes they describe.
A flawed but useful call to arms in the fight against childhood obesity.
Written and illustrated by Jesse Levison, this work is described as “a ‘corny’ book full of food puns that express a parent’s love for their baby.” Some call it hilarious; others question one or more of the premises behind it. One person at Childhood Obesity News feels that it might send dangerous messages to parents, caregivers, and kids. Also, not all children love flippant nonsense. Some struggle to make sense out of the world and are confused by puns and wordplay, at least for the time being. They don’t want cleverness; they want reliable information with which to orient and steady themselves.
The promotional copy seems to suggest that the book will be read to an “adorable, chubby baby,” and that the food puns will “tell a baby just how much they are treasured.” That does seem like a bit of a stretch. (What the baby certainly will love is the parental presence and attention.) A slightly older child might not enjoy being reminded of their recent, undignified infantile status. It would be interesting to see how this idea plays out in the real world; how different kids react.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Always the Fat Kid,” MacMillan.com, undated
Source: “Always the Fat Kid,” KirkusReviews.com, March 2013
Source: “I Could Eat You Up,” PowerhouseCultural.com, April 2021
Image by Liz Henry/CC BY-ND 2.0