Obese Children and Government Involvement

(c) 2011, Written by Will Blesch

In an opinion piece published in the American Medical Association’s journal by Dr. David Ludwig, who happens to be an obesity specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Boston which is affiliated with Harvard University,  “putting overweight children into foster care is, in some cases, more ethical than obesity surgery.”

While the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years in America are obese…

And, while I can personally say that I agree that in extreme, rare cases the government should indeed step in and take a child away from his parents as in cases of child abuse…

Just how much involvement should Big Brother have in the lives of its private citizens?

In one example, a Greenville, South Carolina single mother lost custody of her 555lbs 14-year-old son. It’s entirely possible that this woman loved her son, but as a parent, isn’t it her responsibility to help that child control his weight?

(It is her responsibility and she should have.)

And, by not controlling their children’s weight…there are all kinds of health risks that the public would end up having to pay for because the parents probably wouldn’t be able to afford medical care once those health risks manifested as disease processes.

For instance, obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Adult obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. In addition, just as children, obese kids have an increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. They’re also at increased risk for:

  • Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and asthma.
  • Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.
  • Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn).
  • Obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.

But I can’t get away from the nagging thought…

How invasive should we allow the government to be in our families’ lives?

Is the issue here really about caring for the kids? What’s the baseline for determining that a kid is TOO fat, and that he or she needs to be yanked away from his or her parents?

Or, is the issue about more and more government control?

Do families really need the government to be their nanny in every respect? Do we really need the government to become another well-meaning, bleeding heart, reality based, television program?

Elite academics seem to think so. Government controlled foster care! That’s the answer!

I have one response to this.

Overall, if our government can’t even balance a budget like every normal family has to do in order to survive…short of child abuse or extreme neglect, why would anyone think that the government can take care of our kids better than we can?

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One Comment on “Obese Children and Government Involvement”

  1. I don’t think you can make a comparison between the national budget and a family’s budget – that’s like comparing cancer to a paper cut. That said, I don’t think foster care is the answer, but obviously family counseling and education is needed when a child’s life is in danger. There’s many people who say that the government should never step in, but it’s a fine line. If a young child needed a blood transfusion in order to survive and the child’s parents declined for religious purposes, do you think the government should step in to save the child? It’s a slippery slope.


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