My mother was concerned because I had not been eating much. One day, she asked: “Jeremy, why are you not eating?”
That happened when I was about five years old.
My response, not the exact words, was: “I don’t want to make it difficult for you to carry me. If I eat, I will grow bigger and heavier. You will not have the strength to take me anywhere, will you?”
Looking at me now, you will wonder what happened to me between then and now.
A brief description of my shape would read: Round!
While many children are growing taller, I am getting broader by the day. That is not too bad because I don’t qualify for the Trim and Fit (TAF) programme in school.
The TAF programme is for children who grow taller and fatter. Its primary objective is to help them lose weight through physical exercise.
Based on my observation, TAF should stand for Torture Anyone Fat. Why?
The programme is not well designed and most students handpicked for the programme are suffering in silence.
What do students under this weight-loss programme, which started in 1992, have to do?
They are required to run and run and run without proper warm-up. It is usually conducted on the athletics track.
Besides the humiliation of having to display their bouncy fat with each stride, they have to struggle to complete the laps under the watchful eye of a stern teacher and some student busybodies.
At times, they have to do exercises like sit-ups and push-ups. As if to make TAF participants understand that being fat is an offence, they are “punished” by being made to do the exercises during recess.
Everyone has to do the same programme — mostly running in the hot sun.
So far they are lucky to end up with only aches and pain. I dread to see any of them suffer in any other way.
TAF awards have been replaced by Physical Health (PH) Awards. The PH Awards criteria recognise not only the school’s efforts in helping pupils to achieve their ideal weight but also in encouraging pupils to participate in sports and other physical activities.
As the TAF award criteria have recently been changed, I think it is time to review the TAF programme so that overweight students can gain optimum benefit from it without being tortured. For that to happen, the programme should be safe, progressive and varied.
It should be a year-round programme without any break during the school holidays. It should take into account the current physical condition of the participants. It should be effective in helping them burn their fat gradually. It should contain a self-monitoring system which will allow them to see their progress. It should make sure they truly understand the importance of proper diet and the consequences of obesity.
More importantly, TAF should not be made compulsory for fat students. The programme should be made so attractive that the students — not necessarily the fleshy ones — want to join in.
If the TAF programme is to remain unchanged, I suggest that it should be scrapped so that my cohort of fat boys and girls can be spared the agony.
Back to myself. If you are still wondering, why I have “ballooned” so much despite what I told my mother, it is the medicine which I have to take to strengthen my bones. It seems to have a potent effect on my mind. After taking it, I cannot stop thinking about food … mmm … fried food, glorious fried food.
Okay, I confess, it is me not the medicine. It is just coincidence that I puffed up not long after the medicine was introduced into my undernourished body.
My doctor has advised me to lose weight. I think I will join the TAF programme after it has been improved.