Obesity in kids a problem? Of course! Sedentary American kids who feast on chips, sodas, burgers and fries, ice cream shakes, the stray package of cookies and other uber caloric and processed, convenience, factory food items are contracting diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems and sleep apnea at younger ages. Thirty-two percent of kids in America are overweight or obese; twelve percent are obese. Who is responsible?
The processed food industry, junk food purveyors like Wendy's, McDonalds, Burger King, White Castle, Taco Bell, KFC, a sedentary lifestyle, computers, marketing, a lack of healthful, nutritious food which is economical (organic, fresh, live foods are costly by comparison) one parent homes, an inconvenient cultural environment which forces parents to rely on the convenience of processed foods, diners and junk food chains. And that's only the beginning. The problem is extremely complex and scientists have only scratched the surface of the biochemical conundrum of obesity. They have not even begun dealing with the psychosocial, emotional, mental and spiritual components of the "disease".
Now, into the witches brew a recent article published in JAMA has thrown its unholy ingredients. A doctor and lawyer are suggesting that parents who raise morbidly obese children are negligent and abusive. And just like in child welfare services' cases where the state intervenes when the child is in danger, foster care should temporarily assume custody of the child who will regain health in an environment that does not contribute to obesity. In other words, the parent, and the parent alone must shoulder the burden of responsibility for the child's morbid obesity. I wish it were that simple. This is where discretion and common sense must rule the law and the medical profession.
In the instance where the obesity is directly linked to a child dying, yes, dying, then the state should intervene. The problem is obesity is a creeper. It insinuates and the body gradually adjusts. We can take an incredible amount of overweight; we cannot be 60 pounds underweight and live. Malnourishment is dire; overnourishment is not.Witness the individuals who are 400-600 pounds. In a household where the mother and father are obese, the likelihood of the children being obese increases because of the eating patterns and habits of the family. The rights of the family trump the rights of the state, especially when the family is a unit and is not a danger to anyone but itself, in the long run. Obesity's effects are often not felt until years later, and at that point, eating habits may have changed.
On the other hand, if a two year old child is grossly obese and the parent is feeding the child a normal amount of food, then the child has a medical condition and the parent should recognize this and run to a doctor. However, the likelihood of a doctor not recognizing tremendous weight gain in a child of two is very rare. The case of this is more the exception than the rule. Thus, the JAMA article appears to be riding the coattails of the alarmist media in proclaiming THERE IS AN OBESITY CRISIS! It makes great copy and creates controversy, but to what effect? The medical profession is steeped in reaping profits from surgeries related to obesity, drugs to suppress appetite and prescribed diets. It is to their benefit to stir up this brew and provoke fury in parents' hearts. Fear and anger are useful manipulates toward their end. Meanwhile, the obesity "epidemic" continues. And state intervention is a long way away.