~~~~~~Randy Pausch~~~~~~

The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.

Consistent practice equals consistent progress.


Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish which greatly trumps Did Not Start.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Is feeding an overweight or obese child junk food equal to child abuse?

A poll recently went up on a forum I am one asking this question. Here are a few of the things I posted in response to it. I have done a little editing just to make the reading less choppy!


I vote no simply because I think the question is too open ended.

My definition of unhealthy is far striker then society in general's definition. I think a parent who has an overweight child that fails to follow the advice of a doctor is neglecting the health needs of that child. But I don't feel that a mother (who may have never been taught about proper nutrition in the first place) taking the kids for a happy meal is abusive. Horribly misinformed and doing her children a disservice yes, abusive no.

I think it boils down to consumer education (including putting regular, daily PE back into the public school schedule) and striker labeling laws. Most of the things labeled "low fat" or "healthy" in the stores are total crap food.


I think the blanket statement "Feeding an obese child unhealthy food is abuse." is a dangerous statement. Who determines what is obese? Who determines what is unhealthy? Who takes the responsibility to educate all the parents that have no clue? Will family history and medical issues be taken into consideration before CPS yanks the kid out of his home? Is society prepared to provide children with a healthy environment? (because it currently is not doing so)

FTR, I have issues in general with blanket statements and stereotyping.

I do not disagree with the fact that obese children need to be fed an appropriate diet. It is more the belief that all obese children are a result of parents not feeding them properly. There are so many other factors that play into obesity than diet. A big one is physical activity, something which many parents have little control over.

Children and parents alike get so many mixed signals. When my oldest was still in public school they had a health lesson that told them they should eat healthy (discussed the food pyramid) and be active (talked about sports and play, etc.). Then they turn around and served them chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon toast (dripping with butter) for breakfast and processed pizza and fries for lunch. They give them Pizza Hut reward coupons for reading, send them home with candy for behaving themselves and have them sell chocolate bars as a fund raiser. At the same time they get rid of recess ENTIRELY, only have PE every 7 days and give them so much homework they can't even play when they get home from school. The phrase "Practice what you preach" comes to mind!

The food industry has also made it confusing for well meaning parents. Anyone and their brother is allowed to slap the word healthy on their product and McD's advertises their happy meals as having healthy choices. A parent of an obese child could have the word healthy on every box of food in their pantry but still be doing nothing for that child's weight because they lack the education and the knowledge to understand FDA food labeling laws and what that allows food companies to claim. Not everyone understands that Snackwell cookies are more unhealthy than the real thing.


Junk food by whose definition.

What if these parents think they are making decent choices? After all a happy meal with milk and apples IS significantly better than one with soda and fries. Many things in the grocery store are labeled "healthy", "low fat" and, the new fav, "whole grain". These things are often no better than their "unhealthy" counter part. I don't think the average parent, regardless of the weight of their child, is going to feed a child something they think will kill them. The food companies say their food is healthy and the government regulates what they are allowed to say so it must be true, right??


Think about the day of an average child that attends public school, they spend 8 hours at school (most of which is sedentary), come home and do 2 hours of homework. That gives them 1 to 2 hours of play time if they are lucky before dinner and bed. That is assuming they don't have any other after school activities. There is no more recess or PE in many schools and those that still have it don't have much of a program to speak of.


I do think it is the responsibility of the parents of overweight and obese children to recognize and do everything they can to fix the problem. It would be even better to not allow the problem to occur in the first place.

Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there that do not see their children as obese. They do not think that, what I call junk food, isn't the best choice for their kids. Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, I ate this and I turned out okay."? It is really hard to fix a problem that you don't see. Cultural differences, lack of education, family history all play a part in this very complicated picture. To boil the whole thing down to if you feed your child junk food you are abusive is insane, IMO.

My husband made a good point. If a food is so bad for someone that it is considered child abuse to feed it to them then shouldn't that food be removed from the store shelves?

Just think how much better society's health would be if that was done, though. But we would probably be trampling on someone's constitutional right to eat a twinkie!

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