parents

On childhood obesity, acting and not acting are both choices

In two prior posts, I’ve agreed with influential blogger Morgan Downey that the proposal in Puerto Rico to fine the parents of obese children is a bad idea, and that the food environment has a great deal to do with the globesity crisis.

But I balked at the implication that parents don’t have primary responsibility for obese children. I wouldn’t have said so before 5 or 10 years ago — because I didn’t get it — but now it’s clear: incorporating fitness and nutrition into children’s worldview is a basic ingredient of child protection.

If fines aren’t the right tack, though, what can be done collectively? I usually fail, but I’ll try to be brief. Clearly, the basic choices are to act or not to act.


Parents must protect against the food environment

In a recent post, I reacted to writer Morgan Downey’s mockery of a ham-handed suggestion in Puerto Rico to fine parents whose children are obese.  I think the suggestion is not helpful, but I objected to Downey’s giving not even a nod to the fact that parents do have a huge role in how kids learn to eat.

Downey focused his prescription on the food environment, and though we agree on its potency, I would put the onus on parents here, too, in part because in this world, a crucial role for parents is to educate their kids about media excesses — which is to say, “media.”


Fines for child obesity are a bad idea, but...

"Puerto Rico doesn’t have the answer" is the headline of Morgan Downey’s recent post about an island proposal to fine parents whose children are obese. Worst idea ever, he says.

Right up front: I don’t want to fine parents of obese kids either. Bad idea, in every way. But the post has enough meat to chew on that it’s worth checking in anyway. Here’s Downey’s comment upon disclosing the idea:

"Oh, that will help! 'Parents: Starve your children and you save a few bucks!' Wow, what a deal! That will overcome the cries of hungry children.”

I’ll dispense with the dumb crap before getting to the worthwhile issue: Starvation? Cries of hungry children? Is there no middle ground between starvation and obesity? One doesn’t starve children into good health, any more than one does to overfeed, or poorly feed, or exercise no control over food choices.


Good guidance for parents worried about obesity

The Stop Obesity Alliance has a guide for parents wanting to help their children who've developed or may be developing an eating problem. I think it is worthwhile, and recommend it to you, both for reading and sharing.


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