Is Child Obesity Child Abuse?
[Editor's Note: Dr. David Ludwig, a child obesity expert from Boston, argued in the Journal of the American Medical Association that children who are morbidly obese and near death should be considered for removal from their parents, and the environment they live in. Jill Castle at Just The Right Byte asks people to consider how complicated the issue of child obesity is, before they make a decision on whether it constitutes child abuse. -- AV]
Many parents suspect there may be problems with their child's weight, but don’t know where to turn for help. It is not uncommon for parents to hear the advice, "Don't worry, your child will grow out of it," which may undermine their concerns and potentially delay needed help.
Photo by Fosco Lucarelli.
If parents are really concerned, they may start combing the web looking for information, only to find a hodge-podge of conflicting, alarming statistics, information, and a lack of actionable steps. Or parents take things into their own hands, adopting adult practices such as dieting or a forced march to the gym, all in an effort to reverse their child’s weight. And this gets parents caught up in practices that may be counter-productive to producing a healthy weight, such as restricting, pressuring or controlling their child’s eating.
And then there's the obesogenic environment (fancy term for the prevalence of large amounts of calorie-dense foods, sedentary-promoting activities and commercialism that encourages eating) which makes it challenging for even the most educated, nutrition-savvy folk to navigate.