Man & Boy: Giles Coren "I Don't Care What My Son Becomes... As Long As He Isn't Overweight"

A father's fear

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I know what you're thinking. You're looking at that picture of my son and you're thinking, "Fat little bastard". Sure, he's cute. He's got a nice little face. He looks a bit of an idiot because his mum took him for a haircut on the morning of the photo shoot (completely failing to grasp the first rule of shoots which is, "never have a haircut closer than two weeks before, or you're going to look like a chump") but on the whole he is a good-looking boy.

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Except he's fat. Arse on him like Vanessa Feltz and a full frontal presentation at bath time that puts one in mind of a Gavin and Stacey-era James Corden or a well-waxed Christopher Biggins, all giggly on too much rosé.

It's all very well to say that it's puppy fat. It's all very well to pinch his cheeks and go, "Who's a cheeky chubby-chops? Awww, wittle fatty boom-boom…" and nuzzle your face in his tummy and blow raspberries and feel how they ripple through him like a fart in the bath, but what if… IT DOESN'T GO AWAY?

You know what I'm saying? Adele's parents probably thought it was puppy fat too. And Paul Hollywood's. And Russell Grant's. No doubt Diane Abbott's family assumed that she would change shape when she was out of nappies. But the change never came. It's reasonable to assume that the parents took their eyes off the ball, let their porky pups feast on a shitty diet and do fuck-all exercise into adolescence and now look at them: ostensibly successful, yes, but laughable to behold with their untucked shirts and stretched, shiny faces. The sort of people you want to follow down the street playing "Flight of the Valkyries" on a tuba.

And I'm worried as fuck that my little Sam could go the same way. Not only because of how it will ruin his life but because of how it will reflect on me. For while obesity as a demographic phenomenon can be classed as disease, epidemic, socio-economic tragedy, whatever, on an individual, case-by-case basis, each actual fat person is blatantly just a badly brought-up, greedy little son of a bitch committing the unforgivable sin of gluttony in a world where there is not enough food to go round. I'd kill them all and render them down for candles.

It may sound harsh but how else are we to recoup the tens of billions of pounds they cost the NHS and the wider economy each year with treatment needed, working days lost, hospital beds broken, chairs smashed to splinters and good workers accidentally killed when fat people sit on them?

It is no business of mine what Sam does with his life. I'm not ultimately bothered whether he's rich or poor, artist or scientist, crackhead or alcoholic, married or unmarried, gay or straight… I don't care if he runs every letter of the LGBTQI spectrum to the end and back, and comes home with a cock in every hole and says he's changed his name to Rita. As long as he isn't fat.

My daughter I am less worried about. Possibly because she is as skinny as a cricket. But if at some point in adult life she pulls the ripcord, well, there are uses for a fat woman. She can be kind of cosy. Whereas a fat man has nothing to offer but his ability to consume. To bring forth upon the world a fat son is indeed a shame before God.

But it's hard to know what to do about it. I'd put him on a strict diet and buy him a hamster wheel but my wife is not the moral absolutist that I am and she is the one who does the Ocado orders. And cooks most of the food. But is a bit of a lazy tart. Sorry — a busy working mother with many other important things to think about, who knows her way down the path of least resistance.

So the boy eats a lot of white carbs, sugary cereals, pizza, fried chicken… much like a poor child in America's morbidly obese central heartlands. Which is why Sam looks like one of them. He doesn't like fruit or veg and none of us can be arsed to force them down him. But he does like a tub of ice cream and a long run at the television of an afternoon. And on even the shortest car journey he expects his iPad and a sack of Kettle chips.

So he gets them. And I say, "Can't you give him a carrot instead?"

And my wife says, "If you want him to eat carrots, you try feeding him a fucking carrot!"

So I let it go. And I feel ashamed. But then I see these middle-class kids with their weekday screen bans and their steamed fish and vegetables and no chocolate or sweeties and 10 hours' oboe practice a day and it makes me want to puke. And I find that I'm kind of proud of our somewhat slutty stance on it all, or lack of one. Otherwise, I suppose, I wouldn't be admitting to it here.

I try to look on the positive side. Such as the possibility that having a fat adult son — who I will unquestionably continue to love with all my heart no matter what — might help me to lay aside my prejudices regarding fat people and bring me to a more respectful place vis-à-vis the fat and ever fatter future we unquestionably face as a race. And that being grotesquely flabby, sweaty, knock-kneed and impotent would mean that Sam was unlikely ever to have a girlfriend or any mates or be invited to parties, so he'd have more time to work at becoming a nuclear physicist or getting filthy rich and supporting me in my old age.

And then other times I think, "I'd best get the chubby fucker's jaw wired before he's old enough to stop me."

From the December issue of Esquire, out now.