Six-year-old who tried to slim with a knife
by BILL MOULAND, Daily MailDespair: Tanya wanted to look like slim TV presenters
For overweight six-year-old Tanya McHale, despair came when she was told she was too big to bounce on her little sister’s birthday trampoline.
Teased at school, anxious to look like the slim girls she saw on television, the seven stone youngster, who is 3ft 6in tall, rushed into her mother’s kitchen and seized the biggest carving knife she could find.
‘I want to cut the fat off me so I can be slim and go on the trampoline,’ she cried.
‘You can’t imagine what it was like,’ said Tanya’s mother Kerry Cozens, 28, yesterday. ‘I was on the phone and she was standing there in the front room with the knife.
‘She pushed it into her arm and it had made a dent before I managed to stop her.
‘She is only six and when she put the carving knife to her flesh she didn’t understand the implications of what she was doing.
‘She told me she was not trying to hurt herself – she was trying to “fix” herself like the people in plastic surgery documentaries.
‘I became hysterical and we were both sobbing loudly. You can’t imagine what it’s like to hear that from one of your children. I was shaking and utterly terrified.
‘I explained that she would have badly hurt herself but all she thinks about is her weight and how unhappy it makes her.
‘She is surrounded by children’s TV presenters and pop stars who are skinny and says all her friends care about being thin too.
‘Tanya is the most adorable child in the world and has such a beautiful face, but she can only see how discriminated against she is because of her size.’
Experts said yesterday that although self-mutilation was ‘quite commonplace’ among teenagers, it was rare to find anyone so young taking such drastic measures.
But at a time when 15 per cent of adolescents are officially obese and one-third regarded as overweight, they claim that the Health Service is ill- equipped to deal with the problem.
‘We realise that there is very little information about what is the best way to approach the management of obesity in children,’ said Dr Ian Campbell, chairman of the National Obesity Forum.
‘Fat kids have always been around, but it has been a phenomenon only in recent years.
‘There are few specialist paediatric centres – one in Bristol and one in Plymouth. GPs don’t really know what to do about it.’
Mrs Cozens, who lives in Millbrook, Southampton, with Tanya and Shaun, eight, Tiffany, three, and one-year- old Laura, said health visitors and local doctors seemed unable to help.
She said: ‘Tanya has always been overweight. She was 10lb when she was born but unlike her brother and sisters just kept growing.
‘She doesn’t eat much and she prefers broccoli to chips and sweets. She is also far from lazy. She loves dancing and walking.
‘If she was happy I would leave her to grow up naturally and not worry – but she is desperately unhappy and cries herself to sleep.
‘She begged me to help her diet but I already make sure she eats healthily.
‘The worst thing for me is how preoccupied other children are with her weight. Tanya gets teased about her size all the time. These kids may only be six but they all talk about dieting and their weight.
‘Tanya checks the fat content of food at the supermarket because this is what the other girls do.
‘The teasing really hurts her. I go in to see her teachers all the time and they say they are dealing with it. But it never stops.’
Dr Campbell advised Mrs Cozens to seek a family GP sympathetic to Tanya’s problem if she was dissatisfied with her local surgery.
‘She needs a lot of help,’ he said. ‘She is very overweight. This demonstrates how being overweight can lead to difficulties in taking part in normal social pastimes.
‘Children like this are more likely to be bullied and escape physical education and less likely to be involved in group games.’
But hey the eradication of fat children and fat bodies aren’t anything bad, they just care about our health right? If they did, they address the mental health in larger people as well because of bullying, discrimination, biogtry, and ridicule.