‘Fat Baby Syndrome’

We know that far too many adults are unhealthily overweight. We have read about the problem of obesity in children and the role that junk food may have to play in this problem. But have you heard about the problem of obese toddlers?

The Daily Mail ran an alarming story about British toddlers becoming seriously and unhealthily overweight. The Week shows a most disturbing photograph of an American 4 year-old who weighs 8 stone and looks like a Sumo wrestler. In the past, fat children were rarer than fat adults and this was widely believed to be due to the fact that they were much more physically active than their parents. When you are active, run, swim and kick a ball around, you burn calories and build muscle. As we slacken off such activities (but still eat as much as ever) we put on weight.

According to the men in white coats at Glasgow University, three to five year-old children are no more active than the average office worker! Children of this age need an hour’s physical activity a day and they are simply not getting it – much to the detriment of their health.

As they grow older some play sport but I fear more acquire a taste for my least favourite childrens’ toy, the ‘playstation’. The technology is wonderful, the simulation of footballers’ turns amazing. Fantastic stuff until you see that glazed look in the child’s eyes, that ghostly look in the face reflecting the light of the monitor, the irritability when interrupted. And only the fingers moving.

My six year old son enjoyed playing on one of these at a friend’s house and expressed interest in our family acquiring a playstation. I patiently explained that a playstation only exercises your thumbs while almost any sport exercises the whole body. He thought for a while and then said: ‘But my thumbs are very weak, you know.’

Make sure you exercise yourself and get your children to exercise too. Playstations (aka ‘electronic nannies’) are a good way to keep kids occupied when you have other priorities but as a doctor I think that the only good they can do for kids is improve some basic reflexes and that just isn’t good enough.

Homeopathic Tip of the Week: Glue ear

‘Glue ear’ is a common condition in children caused by repeated ear infections. Viscous fluid builds up in the inner and middle ear leading to decreased hearing ability and a feeling of muzziness in the ear. Sometimes the condition is picked up at school where the child is simply unable to hear the teacher’s voice. This condition can be difficult to treat with orthodox medicine alone. Grommets have been the mainstay treatment for many years but recent studies show their use to be controversial and the medical profession is far from certain about how useful they are.

In the Winter edition of the British Homeopathic Association’s (www.trusthomeopathy.org) excellent journal for the public, Health & Homeopathy, Dr Bob Leckridge, mentions the homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla as ‘great medicine’ for this condition. As usual I recommend it to be taken in the 6c strength which is easily available. I also totally endorse Dr Leckridge’s opinion that it’s best to consult a trained homeopathic doctor if you have a child with this condition.