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Nicholas Lukowiak

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Should caring for child who is medically considered 'obese' be claimed as child abuse?

I live in New Jersey, America - and there is no question that America has an obesity problem... I see college students take elevators up one floor, children (under 11) who are over 100 pounds at the flea market, soccer mom vans at the McDonalds drive thru with a full load of kids, and so much more...

Children are unequipped with the ability to make full and conscious decisions about their diets. Yet, the decision of over feeding a child does not just harm them in health, but in future developments of their body.

Until about 25, the human body is still developing. For a child to be overweight and growing up, their bodies are being stressed out far more than they should be naturally. The body compensates, but can never fully adapt to being overweight.

Forget drugs. Food is harming more people in this nation than anything else, next to alcohol.

When is the day going to come when I can treat an over eater like a smoker?

"Put down that cheeseburger, look at yourself!"

Yes, I understand we have the right to choose, but a child doesn't. A child will not know the full awareness of their choices until they are probably a late teenager.

Should we create laws preventing children from reaching obesity? How about adults? Should adults have to be court ordered diets?

Fun fact: In America, the lower income areas are usually more heavy - why? Because processed food is far cheaper than organic.

Perhaps we need a better education about physical fitness? Rather than just let kids play "gym" teach them diet and nutrition?

Argument of Genetics; In anyway that weight issues can be blamed on the parents being large... The time period where people are dying from weight problems is but a fraction of a fraction of the time periods in which is was not. Genetics is a poor excuse, plan and simple.

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  • Jun 3 2012: The real question then becomes: How do you legislate HEALTH?

    Do you ban McDonald's, Burger King, Hardees, etc?
    Do you outlaw Snickers, Butterfinger, Hershey's bars?

    Do you make a law where everyone must be able to run a 10 minute mile in order to obtain a driver's license?

    As a parent, it sickens me to think about parents who let a videogame babysit their child or a movie supervise their teenager. I'm sickened by the fact that so many parents are too lazy to get off the couch and go outside and simply walk with their children. But I just don't think we can legislate against the parent who has an obese child.

    Asthma and allergies is also on the rise in America and I'm sure in other countries. What do we do to the parents of asthmatics? If a child has an allergic reaction to peanut-butter and goes into anaphylactic shock do we send the parent to jail?

    Educate the parents to use healthy eating habits and teach their children the same healty lifestyle. "Anything in moderation" is what we teach our kids about food. Even the good things -- too many apples in one day can make a person sick.

    Eventually, with a healthier nation, our healthcare costs will come down and the nation's productivity will increase.
  • Steve C

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    Jul 2 2012: "Because processed food is far cheaper than organic." And filled with (allegedly destructive) & addictive substances! This is probably the most important part of the problem. And ads often target kids! (Is it true that in Europe, such ads are illegal?)

    I don't know who would be controlling what weight (or BMI) the "obese" tag would start at; at this time, I think it starts a little low, (what is it - "ten-pounds over" the average BMI?).

    I've heard of a gym teacher here calling one young girl fat - who is *nowhere* near fat - she's so "not-fat" that I *seriously* think he needs his head examined!)

    "Forget drugs. Food is harming more people in this nation than anything else..." !!That oughta be embossed in pure gold (1000 font-size) aside the 150-busiest freeways in America!! AND they should put that on the front of food packages - like cigarettes have to pout warnings on theirs.

    I don't see too many 11-y-o kids over 100 lbs... (come to think of it, I don't see too many 11 y-os anywhere anymore).

    We need to do something, but I don't think we "just need *more* laws." I don't even think we need to address the issue directly. I think it's just one of several effects of some subtle cause.

    It might also help to take some focus off of winning a game, & trying your best & having fun. Back in school, I remember a lot of kids half-assing it around the track. I wonder if that's because they started the "race" knowing they weren't going to "win."
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    Jun 8 2012: Wow. There's no way a parent is solely responsible for having an obese child. We can't even agree what causes obesity. Genetics, medical conditions, poverty, medications, lifestyle and education are just a few of the factors. Why are we so quick to place blame? to point fingers, to punish?
    This is a problem that our society should work to solve collaboratively. Putting the child's parents in jail then adds a host of additional problems.
    I keep thinking that there's a point to be made here about being able to feed a person 2 McDonalds Cheeseburgers every day for a month for about $70
    vs the cost of ANY other food, including cooking at home.
    Personally, the best thing I did for my child was cancel cable TV; both of us lost weight. HBO just aired a great special called THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION. It's a 4 part series addressing this issue. It's free on their website.
  • Jun 3 2012: While I do agree that obesity is becoming quite a serious problem, I think that this idea of somehow taking legal action against the parent would not really change the situation. Could you really imagine the negative media that would surround those laws? The uproar that would surround the first child who was taken away from his parents for being obese would be enormous. And while many people point out very valid points about the fast-food companies being to blame, it would be difficult to effectively legislate healthier menus.

    The truth is that the government's best way to change this bad habit is through the school systems. I know my high school has very strict regulations on what can be sold. This is probably the most efficient way for the government to change the situation. This regulation of foods, proper exercise, and education on healthy eating can all be offered through the school system.

    The biggest problem is just with how society handles eating. It is easy and cheap to get fast food. This fits with our culture, so it isn't very surprising that America has an obesity problem
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    Jun 3 2012: You are pointing the finger at the wrong part of the production line.

    Where is the responsibility in the food industry? Shit sells, everyone knows that but chasing dollars doesn't justify peddling crap without consequence.

    In NZ, McDonalds offers salads and donates a couple of hundred soccer balls a year to schools and soccer clubs in order to "balance" the damage their product is doing to the health of society. As far as kids and their diet decisions go, it doesn't help that there a "playgrounds" and toys to help lure them in.

    It is about personal choice but if you're talking legislation, it's got to be aimed at the junk food companies and restaurants, not individual consumers.
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      Jun 3 2012: I was trying to point the finger everywhere except the child... lol

      Children cannot make a full conscious choice, if they are under ten years old and obese, they will have problems physically for life. A sense of acceptance can follow, along with a shorter life span due to uncontrolled nurturing.

      I'm not blaming fast food, or even just parents. It is the system, just a huge vicious cycle. Put down the cheese steak Scott!

      Commercialization - just so impeded in our culture of T.V zombies; teaching little kids to like Burger King rather than geology or astronomy, before they can full form sentences... Parents and education have to be the anti-brain washers not the enablers... Everyone deserves a finger point here in this debate.
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        Jun 4 2012: Applying the same argument to cigarettes would probably elicit a different response from most people but I consider it the same issue.

        I agree about the insidiousness of advertising. It's disgusting how many companies target schools in NZ. They generally get in the door under some positive cover (eg. McDonald's run a road safety school campaign) and get further under the kids' skin.

        But it's no surprise these days that kids who struggle to recite their 2x tables can rattle off all the 0800 phone numbers to all the pizza companies like it was imprinted in their DNA.
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      Jun 3 2012: Lets face it, for most people making a baby is as easy as spreading their legs. Many parents of obese kids put as much care into raising them as they did in creating them.

      It is a fact that junk food is comparatively cheap and prolific, but once you take ignorance about diet out of the equation you're only left with deliberate wilfulness, "It's my life and I can eat what I want!" Well no, not if you're a parent who dishes up crap to your kids seven days a week - you’re a social menace and a public health hazard like someone who coughs and sneezes over everyone on a bus.

      A 2kg bag of mixed frozen veg is cheaper than a mega pack of crisps. A 2kg bag of spuds costs about the same as a large bag of oven chips so why not give your kids the option of jacket potatoes or boiled or mashed potatoes.

      Fresh fruit can be bought cheaply (e.g. 8 apples for 80p) if buying "on offer", "seasonal" or "non-perfectly shaped" items, and is certainly cheaper than bags of sweets or chocolate bars. A supermarket standard brown loaf costs the same as a white loaf.

      We eat too much meat anyway so cheap fatty pies, sausages, burgers and "Turkey Twizzlers" dished up every day could be cut out in favour of portions of frozen fish, scrambled eggs or low fat mince made up into spaghetti bolognaise or a home made burger. Frozen chicken / turkey portions are also inexpensive and can add to the variety of meat eaten only 3 or 4 times a week.

      Eating crap is just habit. It’s lazy, brainless shopping - I see it more and more - great fat lumps of lard pushing the king sized shopping cart slowly up the aisles, trailing a flotilla of hyper active kids in their wake. Never stopping at the fruit and veg sections they pass straight though to the pie, crisp, frozen chips, brown sauce and mayo, fizzy pop and booze sections before stocking up on the fags.

      Yes, regulate the food processing companies but enjoying a burger once a month won't kill you - crap parents probably will.
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    Jun 2 2012: Hi Nicholas,
    I'm totally with you on this one - kids are getting fat and obese in the UK too. Unhealthy fast food, portion size, not enough exercise and eating at the wrong time of day. Too many people skip breakfast, have a sandwich, packet of crisps and chocolate bar for lunch and then have a massive blow out at 8pm. It's too much of the wrong food eaten at the wrong time of day - and it'll kill millions.

    I like to spread this fact around:

    There are 7 billion people in the world - 1 billion are starving while 1.6 billion are obese!

    To answer your question - in the first instance parents of overweight children should be referred by the child's doctor or school nurse to attend classes about obesity and its impact on children's physical and emotional health (including the impact of being bullied). They should also be made to attend cooking classes where food types, portion sizes, meal plans and recipies are made - nice and practical.

    If nothing changes for the child - I'd be quite happy to dish them up some jail time.
    • Jun 3 2012: According to W.H.O., the 1.6 billion are those who are over-weight, not obese.
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        Jun 6 2012: That's overweight or obese I take it - or should the hurds of obese be added to this number? The problem with this destinction is that it excuses being overweight as trivial - whereas in many cases - being overweight is the slippery slope to obesity.
  • Jun 11 2012: It’s true there are so many different factors that influence or cause child obesity. As this special shows it’s government food policies, lack of public spaces, food ads targeted to kids, cheap junk food and so on and it’s a problem that’s only going to be solved collectively. But what this special doesn’t show is how overweight and obese parents keep eating the way they do hence feeding their children with the same junk and that is NOT FAIR for those kids. That’s why the government should do also something to “rescue” those kids somehow.

    Each parent is responsible for what their kid is eating. Change should start at home and parents must be the role models for their children, showing them how to eat healthy and exercise. It’s very easy to blame it all on external factor and sit around waiting for someone else to change it. The ones demanding changes should be the parents!! But this is not going to happen while parents choose to keep eating junk.

    MTV also has a very interesting program “I used to be fat” were teens get help to lose weight. What stroke me the most of this show is that most of these teens were overweight because their families are overweight. You can see on each show the amount of junk food there is on each home. The trainers had to ask the families to support the teens by cutting out on junk food. Unfortunately most of them didn’t and you can see very clearly that they prefer to eat whatever they like rather than making a sacrifice for their children's well being and that is SHOCKING. http://remotecontrol.mtv.com/category/shows/i_used_to_be_fat/

    Also there is the story of another kid and you can see the documentary it’s called “Half Ton” in Channel 4. This is a clear example that some parents just don’t know how to handle it or can’t do it and someone has to intervene, like in this case or otherwise that kid would of died.
    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/real_life/2107664/Teen-balloons-to-60st-gorging-on-mums-junk-food-meals.html
  • Jun 5 2012: Nope, we all know the intentions of controlling the child's diet. As long as it's not to the extreme, I believe it is healthy to control the child's diet when he is young, so that he will grow up or grow used to the food that he usually eats.
    We should also educate them on the benefits of exercise, get them exposed to different sports, as they might just find themselves a new sports hobby! :) The main idea here is to get them off the couch and build a healthy psyche from young.
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      Jun 5 2012: So, you disagree but agree in every other aspect?

      Make parent education for child care, mandatory - or at least give an incentive; in Mexico a mother gets paid by the government to make sure they go to school, visit the doctor and attend first aid programs.. Should be enhanced and implemented here. Small price to pay with taxes to support our future... Laws, definitely, no question, make parents do this!
      • Jun 7 2012: I mean I disagree that caring for a child who is obese should be claimed as child abuse.
        It's training them to be stronger. :)
  • Jun 3 2012: I completely agree with Nicholas. This isn’t the child’s fault it’s their parents fault. They are the only ones responsible for taking care of their own children. Unfortunately they don’t care, because it’s more comfortable, fast and cheap to eat take away than to cook a proper healthy home meal. So there should someone or something that forces them to change because parents have shown they can’t or they won’t and in my opinion that is the government. If you mistreat your kid, if you don’t give them a proper home, cloth, food or health care you’ll receive a visit from a social worker demanding this situation to change or the kid is going to be taken from you until you are ready to take proper care of him again. Well stuffing your kid with junk food so that he becomes obese and endanger of dying before he reaches 18 is also CHILD ABUSE. I bet you that if the government threatens families with obese kids that if the situation doesn’t change the child will be taken away from them; I believe most of them will soon change their eating habits.
  • Jun 3 2012: "When is the day going to come when I can treat an over eater like a smoker?
    "Put down that cheeseburger, look at yourself!"

    Here is a problem in my opinion. The question is what you want to achieve. Do you want to achieve that the obese people get less fat or do you want to be able to mock them? When confronting a person with a problem in a negative way you usually get a negative reaction, which is fine if you want to argue with a person, but is not good if you want to convince someone to do something.

    People are extremly influenced by advertisements and they are especially receptive when lacking education about this subject. In my opinion one important step would be to increase the level of education in school in addition to banning fast food products from schools.
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      Jun 3 2012: Well, I have seen a hand full of times where people are just angry that a smoker is knowingly harming themselves. I do not want to mock, I just do not want self destruction to become a common trend, or at least continue to be one. Longevity should be a human goal, and this epidemic spits in that ideas face.

      I agree about the education in school - "gym class" is a joke as a part of a curriculum, just a waste of time and saves the schools thousands a year; avoiding to buy more books.