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August 3, 2017

Ten Stone Baby: Vintage Newsreel From the 1930s Shows Childhood Obesity Not Only a Modern Condition

They say child obesity is a modern problem - but this baby boy in the 1930s is said to have weighed 10 stone (63.5kg/140lbs) at the age of three.

Childhood obesity is one of the biggest health issues faced by modern (Western) society and has been attributed to everything from consumerist society to a side-effect of the digital age.

But a newsreel from the 1930s shows that healthy eating, diets and food awareness has been an issue long before things like Pokémon and Happy Meals were invented and enough of a cause célèbre to be the source of sensationalist news.

Dubbed A Ten Stone Baby, the short clip introduces three-year-old Leslie Bowles who a commentator describes as "the heaviest baby in the world" at 63.5kg.

The clip, originally shown in the UK in 1935, begins with the narrator saying: ‘Meet three-year-old Leslie Bowles, claimed to be the heaviest baby in the world.

‘When he was last weighed he turned the scales at 9st 2oz. He’s grown a lot since then but the trouble is nowadays he refuses to be weighed at all so we don’t really know whether he’s solid or hollow.’

The boy is seen playing with his toys - and at one point he climbs onto a chair to grab a bar of chocolate that is dangled above him.

The narrator adds: ‘They don’t let him walk yet - his body is too heavy for his legs, but that doesn’t top him getting about and doing things.’

Thankfully, in recent years, we’ve made some huge improvements not only in better understanding the factors that cause obesity but also in realising that shaming people, particularly three-year-olds, about their weight does more harm than good.

Bowles apparently lived until the age of 42, weight unknown, when he died from a work-related crane accident.

(Source: British Pathé, via 9Pickle)


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