"Cruel Kindness," a 1967 UK educational film about childhood obesity

Jack Sargeant says: "The Wellcome Trust - Britain's largest and most unique medical archive - has a channel at YouTube where they are posting archival medical films and films about the archive. Titles you can watch include a 1917 documentary on War Neuroses and footage of a Henry Wellcome archeological dig."

From the description for "Cruel Kindness," a 1967 UK educational film about childhood obesity

This extremely enjoyable film, which contains excellent footage of late 1960's home life, attitudes to food and meal times, addresses obesity in children. A female GP narrates the story of three children who are overweight for their age stressing that although there may be some inherited causes of their obesity, it is mostly due to over-feeding on the part of the parents, what the GP calls a cruel kindness.
One interesting thing about this film is that the most of the "obese" children in it look like average kids today.

Cruel Kindness (1967)


  1. It’s the fat people’s fault they’re fat. They’re not fat because they sit on their ass all day, snack constantly between meals, eat meals at irregular times and dinner late at night not longer before bed, skip breakfast because in the mistaken belief that it will help keep their weight down and don’t do any exercise. It’s not their lifestyle and lack of self control that makes them fat, it’s their genetics or their slow metabolism.

    Then they have children and give them snacks and TV instead of attention and exercise.

    1. Not at all. It’s always the mother’s fault.

      Too bad we can’t get rid of mothers. Imagine the improvements to be made!

      1. #5

        Yah, get rid of mothers. The Disney Princesses turned out pretty and skinny. Reason: no mothers.

  2. I’m not sure where you need to be living for the obese children to ‘look like regular kids today’! Eeep!

    1. Houston/Dallass six flags.

      go to the water ride line and, please, try not to be crushed.


      ps, the transition from fit to fat is as simple as stopping the bike rides and sitting behind a desk for 3 years. no need to ask how I know.

      pps. rescue a dog, learn clicker training, walk dog twice daily 20 min+ you will notice a diff!! cont this routine and both you and the dog will be healthier and happier.

      I’ve seen it happen. Do it. you won’t regret it.

  3. The sad thing is that I’m not sure that if you took Mr. and Mrs. Brown and put them in a line up of random people today if they would be considered over weight.

  4. I’d consider them overweight. 10 years ago I’d probably have made fun of that boy for being fat, though I wonder if that would happen now, or if the seriously obese kid would get all the “attention”.

    It’s interesting that the problem is mum providing too much home-made rich food. 40 years later mum is providing too much processed or fast food.

  5. “Kindness” is misspelled “kindess” four times in this post. Three times I could overlook, but four … that’s just cruel.

  6. Aaawww, poor mum. It wasn’t but just over a decade since food rationing had ended. She probably really did believe that plentiful food=healthy food.

    I also love how you only need a “small amount” of fruits and veg to get your vitamins!

  7. At the risk of attracting the attention of those CAMH nut-jobs for being overly attracted to correct use of words, please could people at least make an effort to stop abusing ‘unique’? Pretty please?

  8. Thank god they finally, at the very end, after describing the three main groups of food (protein, carbohydrates and fat), that they got around to in one brief moments actually mentioning vegetables.

  9. I lived for a while in Mississippi, USA. A friend was married with 2 daughters. A single meal consisted of 2 whole chickens, a large serving platter of sliced ham, potatos served as mashed/baked/french fried, left-over spaggetti with meat sauce. For drinks there was canned sodas, chocolate milk, or coffee. Two types of pies, a cake, and chocolate pudding for dessert. For 6 people at the table, the only thing left was a bit of chocolate pudding. I made myself a salad with some diced chicken in it.

    Needless to say, all of them were borderline morbidly obese. The husband eventually had been diagnosed with very low grade diabetes and started an exercise and healthy eating regiment which helped cure him. His wife divorced him because of his new lifestyle even after she had a heart-attack caused by the clogged arteries in her body. Her kids followed their father’s example and enjoy healthy lives.

    Sometimes being shocked by self-inflicted abuse of one’s body/health will set people on the right healthy path…and sometimes not.

    People can also see food as a way to cope with life. If they have issues that they can’t control, what and how much they eat gives them a sense of control over their lives. It also gives them pleasure and energy. They use it as a social mechanism too. And cheerfully ignore the side-effects and symptoms, regardless the consequences.

    We all have our pecidillos…some are more dangerous and long-lasting than others.

    And jackie31337, you forgot the fifth food group…BACON!


    Dolnor Numbwit
    Eternal Newbie

  10. An interesting post – the lowering of my mood within the first 30 seconds, lowered further when the narrator’s patronising accent and delivery kicks in, took me straight back to my school days when we’d be shown this sort of life-draining shite many times a term. Thank the non-existent lord those days are over. I blame shockingly badly acted films like this for the “works at a desk, takes no exercise, poor expectations of life” Mr Browns that so often populate the world today.

  11. A fascinating period piece, and much of the advice is just as relevant today as it was then.

    Smiled at the reference to serving “green stuff” in the 3rd part.

    Where were these films shown at the time? Surely not in schools as the films were aimed at parents, in cinemas?, on TV?

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