WTF ever happened to “ooh, your baby looks so fat & HEALTHY”????

Yeah, apparently now the quacks that brought us the (nonexistent) Obesity Epidemic are now finding “obesity” in infants.

As a mother of 4, this totally pisses me off.  For one thing, for thousands of years it’s been known that a fat baby usually equals a healthy baby.  Obviously not all of the time, but a good majority of the time.  It’s one of those things that we didn’t have proof of, it was just something we knew.  Like we knew the sky was blue before somebody went to the trouble of finding out the scientific reasons why.

But it gets worse.

The findings are based on two studies. The first involved 2139 infants not older than age 2 who were admitted for any reason to the Bnai Zion Medical Center in 2004 and 2005. The second study was community-based and used parental interviews to assess the problems seen in 79 overweight infants and 144 normal-weight infants.

The infants were considered overweight if they had a body mass index (BMI) above the 85th weight-for-height percentile on 2 or more measurements taken at least 3 months part. This means that 85 percent of children their age and gender have a lower BMI, which is a measure of weight in relation to height.

In the first study, the researchers found that infants between the 85th and 94th weight-for-height percentiles actually had fewer hospital admissions and repeat admissions than normal-weight infants. However, higher than expected admission rates were seen in the most overweight infants (95th or higher percentile).

In the second study, overweight infants were more likely than their normal-weight peers to have developmental delays and snoring. There was also evidence that asthma and other breathing problems were more common in overweight infants.

When surveyed, only about 32 percent of mothers with an overweight child believed that their child was overweight.

Parents need to be aware that even infants are at risk for problems related to excess body weight and, therefore, should strive to achieve a normal weight in their young children, Shaoul and colleagues conclude.

Emphasis mine.

So because the infants in one particular area had a higher than “normal”rate of developmental delays and breathing problems, the rest of the world faces the same fate??

What, babies should now start looking like those Ethiopian children the media liked to plaster all over our televisions in the 80s and 90s??  And since when did starving our babies putting our babies on a diet sound like a good thing?  There used to be a word for that.  Neglect.  You got your children taken away from you for that.

Where is this “community” used for the second study?  Why do I get the feeling it’s probably either a low-income area or one based near some sort of industrial site?  One where either the residents don’t have access to the kind of medical care that could catch and prevent these sorts of problems (and probably don’t have access to proper nutrition, either), or one where there’s something in the air or water that’s causing these problems.

Obviously I have no way of knowing that, but it just seems odd to me that one study showed that fat babies ARE healthy babies – the one study that probably had a broader range of subjects from all walks of life.  And then they do another study, in an isolated area, and the results are dramatically different.

Something smells fishy to me.

*Credit should go to Sarah at Big Fat Dynamo.  She found the story first.  🙂


20 Responses

  1. The sample size on the second study seems awfully small. I’m not sure you can get accurate data from that.

  2. “What, babies should now start looking like those Ethiopian children the media liked to plaster all over our televisions in the 80s and 90s?? ”


    I’m sorry, fatter babies are cuter and underweight babies are sooo much more fragile you’re afraid to hug them too hard. Thank God both my babies had enough meat on them I wasn’t afraid they’d break!!!


    I mean, give them some time to grow out of their baby fatness, will ya?

    I don’t overfeed my kids but starving them is just stupid and doesn’t feel right!!

  3. I suspect that some doctors would find those poor starving babies “obese,” due to thier distended tummies. Will we start to see baby lipo and infant-sized lap bands?

  4. 2 friends have had babies in the past couple of years, and both their kids are porkers. Absolutely huge, for babies. And it was ABSOLUTELY NORMAL!

    One mom exclusively breastfed, and her kid miraculously got up into the 95th percentile. The other is now a year old and about twice as heavy as my petite 18 month old niece.

    From what I know about babies, it’s impossible to overfeed them. They eat when they’re hungry, and refuse when they’re not (or too distracted to eat).

    Seriously, leave the babies alone!

  5. Lina: I hate to say it, but it wouldn’t surprise me any. In the least.

  6. Even if I believed that it was possible for an infant to be “over”weight (which I don’t, and my views on whether it’s possible for any adult person, fat or skinny to be “over”weight, in the sense of weighing more than is healthy, are in the “not in most cases” corner), how could you even tell? Babies grow and change so rapidly, in terms of weight and length/height ratios and absolute values, I don’t believe that it’s objectively possible to really say that they’re off proportion.

  7. It’s absolutely crazy. My eldest went through a chubbalump phase from 6-10 months or so, and during that time I was breastfeeding her and she was starting to feed herself solids. The health visitor watched her weight go up and up and up, and freaked right out — my baby was referred to a ped and a nutritionist, who both took one look at her and told me she was FINE.

    Do these people forget that kids grow at astronomical rates during their first year of life? And that fat is needed for this, as well as brain development??

    Gah. I have no real scientific training whatsoever, and I can see this for what it is: Bad Science. Or is that scienterrific? 😉

  8. Jamboree – that’s so freakin’ INSANE!

    Most babies go through a chunky phase from about 6-12 months of age – they’re storing up reserves because soon they will start walking and burn it all off! I mean, who are these people with so little experience of what real babies are like that they don’t realize this???


  9. BABIES. Little infants! WHY?! Good lord, we’ll piss and moan that women dare choose not to have one (asshats trying to outlaw birth control), but then we want to stunt their development by denying them the most basic necessity of FOOD?! WHAT. THE. HELL. Makes me want to go opt for a hysterectomy right now, if this kind of hostility is going to be directed towards my future children even before they ever get into school where the other kids are going to torment them if they carry the slightest hint of body fat (more so after they get an obligatory weighing at school and get sent home with “obesity!!! ur a bad parent lol!!!” on their report cards).

    How many people have to suffer (mentally/emotionally and physically), and even die, before the mainstream figures out how dangerous and damaging this crusade against fat is?! What a terrible trend. I’m surprised they aren’t removing protections on whales so we can be forced by the government to wear whalebone corsets in the old-fashioned torture- for- looks way (and get our organs squished and suffer permanent damage), men and women alike. That’ll show us, how dare people walk around NOT looking like porn stars?! THE VERY NERVE. *eyeroll*

    I hate to think what will happen when the fat craze dies off a bit and we start co-blaming the world’s ills on anyone who develops wrinkles before the age of 90.

  10. Sad, ain’t it? Fat hate and hysteria is now being passed onto the tiniest humans. Couple this with some OB-GYN’s telling pregnant women not to gain a lot weight during their pregancies (remember when that used to mean women were passing nutrition onto their fetuses)? and we’re creating another generation of disordered body and food thinkers.

  11. There are a lot of things wrong with this study, or at least with the reporting of it. First, for what reason do the scientists define babies in the upper 15th percentile to be overweight? That’s assuming that the highest 15% must be fat — and there’s no reason to assume that. Second, correlation does not equal causation, as we know — and it’s more than possible that infants with breathing problems have a tendency to gain weight. They may not be getting enough sleep, which leads to increased appetite — or there may be a mechanism driving both breathing problems and weight gain. Or about a thousand other “ors”….

  12. *headdesk*

    Not to mention Sad Panda. Absolutely ridiculous.

  13. Not five years ago, one of those anti-tobbaco ads was making it’s point by saying that the babies of smokers had lower birth weights.

    The lower birth weight was presented as a crisis, not something to strive for.

  14. My personal favorite thing in this kind of study is the “solution” presented. Even if (and that is a very big “if”) there was a correlation between size and health problems in infants, where is the evidence that artificially making those infants smaller (if it could even be done, let alone done safely) would change a damn thing?

    Being left-handed, for instance, carries certain health “risks” (is correlated to higher incidence of certain medical problems) but no one is idiot enough to assume that forcing children to use their right hands would change anything.

    It really is horrifying that fat is considered such an evil that it must be eradicated at any cost, even in the most vulnerable individuals. All those warnings about making sure your child gets enough fat, nutrients, and calories for brain and body development? Forget about it. It doesn’t matter because if a child is fat, a healthy brain and body are nullified. Slender, low-functioning, miserable child is better than a fat, smart, happy one.

  15. I am so confused…the ‘truth campaign’ anti-smoking commercial says that a low birth weight is bad…but then you’re supposed to ‘strive” to maintain a slim baby…So the mother shouldn’t smoke but the baby should so the baby doesn’t get teh fatz? Wow, children sure are complicated, I am glad I have pets instead. It must be hard to teach a baby to smoke and count calories.

  16. About a month ago I was home visiting a friend of mine who’d just had her first baby 2 weeks ago. Another new mom was over and they were talking about breastfeeding. At one point my friend expressed concern that her son was hungry often and she was worried he was overeating. A TWO WEEK YEAR OLD – OVEREATING.

    I give my friend a break as it’s hard being a new mom and you just want your baby to be ok but how crazy is it that she would worry about such a thing rather than just think it was good that your son was eating well?

    I genuinely worry about the physical development of the next generation with the current level of obesity hysteria we’ve got going.

  17. Two friends each had a baby a couple of years ago. One set of parents are both tall and solidly built, they had a nearly 9lb baby at full term. The other set of parents are average height but skinny, both drink and smoke fairly heavily, and the mother drank and smoked throughout the pregnancy (not making any judgements here, just observations) and had a 5lb baby 10 days early.

    The first set of parents had all this consternation directed at them, big baby watch out for OMG obeeeeeeeeeesity sick baby omg; the second had none of that (the mother didn’t tell the ob/gyn or midwife she smoked and drank) except for a tiny bit of concern that she hadn’t put on much weight.

    The first, big, baby started learning to walk at 8 months, is a very bright and active infant, and has hardly any health problems. The second, small, child is still quite small, didn’t learn to walk until 18 months, and is rather quiet and not terribly interested in the external world, and gets sick a lot. Yeah, I know, anecdotes aren’t data, but these observations are backed up by studies on birth weight.

    The bigger toddler is probably going to come home from school in a couple of years with a big fat O for obesity on their report card. &*#^%$#@^*&!!!!!!

  18. Fat babies AREN’T necessarily healthier than babies who aren’t. But that doesn’t mean that they will grow into fat adults. I just don’t agree with people who wean their kids too early and ”stuff” their kids with formula, which makes the babies (most) very fat and doesn’t protect them from diseases. My daughter has never been sick. She is 26 months old and I am still nursing her. She eats other foods as well, of course. She is not a fat baby, but she IS healthier than all babies in our mommy and me class and everywhere else I’ve been where there were babies the same age who weigh twice as much as she does. The weight doesn’t mean anything. Healthy babies come in different shapes and forms. Fat babies are cute, non-fat ones are cute… All babies are adorable no matter what. Let’s keep them healthy and stop focusing on size.

  19. Only 20 years ago fat babies/children were laughed at or looked upon as poor things with a disease. We know what fat does to us as adults. So why do we excuse it or even cutify it in our babies. If they aren’t born fat, because their mums are, they are fed to death. What’s wrong with our society? I tell you: We are so occupied with food, that we have forgotten who we really are. We are God’s children and we have become fat little buddas…

  20. I’d like to know what planet you’re living on, “Ms. Blogger,” that fat babies were looked upon as DISEASED. Because it sure as hell ain’t Earth.

    And yes, we DO know what fat does to us as adults. It protects us from various forms of disease, helps us to recover from serious diseases such as cancer and heart attacks, and in the majority of cases, makes it less likely that we WILL get serious diseases like cancer and heart attacks.

    And how do you know that a fat “mum” feeds their baby “to death?” Seriously – HOW in the HELL could you possibly know that? Have you lived with every fat mother on the face of this earth? I highly fucking doubt it.

    But you’re absolutely right about one thing: we ARE obsessed with food. With placing moral values on something that exists to fuel our bodies. With the size of our bodies and everybody else’s. With the “virtuousness” of DIEting. Suddenly a person’s worth has become based on what they look like, alone.

    Oh, and one more thing: “God’s children”?? Matter of opinion.

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