Parental responsibility in childhood obesity?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Bells, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. Bells Staff Member

    We have here, the story of an 8 year old child who can only be described as morbidly obese.

    The family's excuse is that he has a "dietary intolerance to fruit or vegetables". One has to wonder, is it all fruit and vegetables? How can that be? Even starchy vegetables, such as the potato? I would be willing to bet that this boy can probably eat vegetables if they are deep fried and served with nice lashings of salt and tomato sauce. Or some vegetables sliced up and served on pizza's under a thick layer of melted cheese.

    But 89kg's? At first I thought maybe he has a genetic condition. But then I saw the "dietary intolerance to fruit and vegetables" and I thought hmmmm.. I attempted to put his weight into perspective by comparing myself to this child. I am one week being 8 months pregnant and this child still weighs a hell of a lot more than I do. And that's scary because at the moment I am huge and I am probably a lot taller than he is.

    Now the State has attempted to help this child in the past, but the mother and grandmother have just fobbed it all off.

    One would think that a parent would want to help their child. So why would they miss the appointments that could end up saving their child? The situation appears to have gotten so drastic that they could end up classifying the mother as some form of child abuser in what appears to be a first in the UK.

    Will this help though?

    He could also be taken into care if the family still refuse to actively help this child.

    I have to wonder, at what point did the family just stop noticing? Could the mother not see that her child was not just chubby but becoming morbidly obese? Even if this child has an intolerance to fruit and vegetables, is it all fruit and vegetables? As I said before, I would be willing to bet that he simply does not like eating anything that is not deep fried so the family just let him have what he wants.. what my husband refers to as the 'little king syndrome'.. where the parents just pander to their child's every whim. Our child tries to be the 'little king' but it simply does not work with us. Some parents however will do anything to make their child happy, even if it means that the child could suffer serious health risks or possibly worse later on. This family has taken the whole notion of the occasional treat and have made it into a daily routine.

    Now the mother's reaction to this?


    Does she not realise that her child could actually die or suffer life long diseases such as diabetes because of his obesity? I think the best thing might be to take him into care, because what has happened to him up to this point could be classified as parental neglect.
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  3. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    How free do we want our citizens to be, Bells? And that's really and actually at issue, ain't it?

    As a society, can we actually take control of the kid from the parents for this? And if we say, yes, what kind of can o' worms does it open up for the courts?
    Perhaps for watching too much tv?
    Perhaps for not studying their lessons enough to pass tests in school?
    Perhaps because the kids are overly shy and don't interact well with their peers?
    Perhaps because they're little bullies and don't want to reform?

    Where does it end, Bells? I have a neighbor who lets his shitty little dog bark (make that yelp shrilly!) until about midnight or so ....and the cops can't do a fuckin' thing about it. They suggest that I take him to civil court!

    I don't know, Bells. I know you're all for this kid, but think of the bigger picture and put things into a bit of a better perspective. Like ...maybe let the kid die of overeating?

    Baron Max
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  5. Bells Staff Member

    You tell me Baron.

    Do you think people should be free to neglect their children?

    How about abusing them?

    Do you think this child needs help? Do you think that after trying to help the parents help the child, if the parent ignores all avenues offered to them, that someone else should just take over to help this child have a chance?

    Actually as a society we can and do take control of children away from the parents if the parents are seen to have abused or neglected their children, resulting in the child being placed at risk. It does not open a can of worms. This 8 year old child weighs 89 kilograms. That is huge.

    Now childhood obesity costs the public and society as a whole huge amounts of money due to the cost of medical care they end up needing later on in life. Don't you think society should somehow have a say in stopping a child getting sick if it can? Shouldn't society care for the young (or the elderly or anyone else for that matter?)? And in this instance it can. The mother has refused to attend every single session with doctors and health care workers to help this child.

    Do any of your little scenarios lead to possible death and diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, potential heart attacks and strokes?

    You, as a citizen, probably have the right to take your neighbour to court. You live in the US after all.

    And then what? Have you accuse society of "not caring" for letting this child die? That's the thing with you isn't it Baron. You'd rather nothing be done because you just can't be bothered to care or you just like playing devil's advocate.

    Luckily for this child, people do care and are willing to do everything they can to help him. Now you might think it is acceptable that society leave children to die of neglect, but that's just you. Thankfully the majority disagree with you.

    Has the mother neglected her child? I think the fact he weighs 89 kilograms and is only 8 years old tends indicate that she has. She has to date refused all offers of help by simply not turning up to appointments made to help her son. Should the state step in? Well it has already, as they tend to do in cases of child neglect.
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  7. MetaKron Registered Senior Member

    You know, sometimes freedom is like that. I would rather have the freedom.
  8. Bells Staff Member

    You do have the freedom.

    However once you decide to act on it and neglect your child, resulting in harm to said child, that child can be taken from you.
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    We permit parents to twist and warp their children in all manner of ways that burden human progress. It's just more acceptable to pick on the dude at the Android's Dungeon than the Flanders kids. Easier, too. Obesity is not enumerated in the Constitution, and I've never tried to construct the argument.

    Nor shall I. Not my part in this.

    I raise my daughter with deliberate disregard for general convention; I'm in no position to judge on this.
  10. MetaKron Registered Senior Member

    Perhaps I should just have you looking over my shoulder every minute.
  11. Search & Destroy Take one bite at a time Moderator

    logical fallacy : slippery slope
  12. Bells Staff Member

    Why would I want to?

    Here is something that is difficult to grasp for many.

    Parents do have a responsibility to their children. Parents cannot harm their children. Now do you think the mother in this instance has neglected her child resulting in harm? Lets see, he weighs 89 kilo's and he is 8 years old. Something is obviously a bit 'iffy' there don't you think? Don't you think this child should be helped?

    More importantly, should the mother's freedom come before the health and safety of this child? After all, she is not being jailed. Her child can be removed from her care and helped if she refuses to act to save her child. The choice is entirely hers. She can either help save her son or refuse and have said son taken from her care.
  13. RickyH Valued Senior Member

    Sure it's a great idea, Montel, Sally, Riki lake, all of them would agree....
  14. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    I wonder how easy it would be to trace all of mankind's problems and ills to the simple ideal of .....mind your own fuckin' business?

    Trying to tell others how to act, what to do, and trying to force ones ideals onto others, has probably caused my pain and suffering and death than all of the neglect in all of history.

    Some 10,000 children die of starvation and easily-cured diseases every single day of the year. In the bigger picture, is one child's death somehow more tragic than another child's death?

    I wonder how the world would really be if we all just minded our own fuckin' business? Dealt with ONLY those things that directly affected us?

    Baron Max
  15. Bells Staff Member

    So you don't think there should be any laws that might dictate to others how to act? For example, a law that says parents must not neglect or abuse their children would not exist. We might as well abolish drink driving laws, murder laws, rape laws.

    If we all minded our own business to such an extent, then we could find ourselves in a state of anarchy. You are told how to act when you are told to not drink and then get behind the wheel. Parents are told how to act when they are told that it is unlawful to neglect or abuse their children.

    I have a hypothetical for you Baron. Lets just say you are standing by a busy road and you see a child wandering towards that road into the path of a truck. Would you walk the few steps and pull that child back before he stepped in front of that truck? Or would you think to yourself 'maybe I should mind my own "fucking business" and let this one kid die since what's one's kid's death when so many are dying of starvation and easily-cured diseases' and let the child walk in front of the truck and die?

    If you can prevent one child's death, then it is one child less who will die in the world.

    You mean if we all acted like a bunch of selfish arseholes? We do already. Why do think so many children are dying around the world Baron? Because we simply can't be bothered to help some children dying in Africa and hide behind the excuse of 'minding our own "fucking" business'. Our Governments do it really well and have gotten away with it for a long time. So do we. And when anyone tries to do something to help, people like you step forward and say "mind your own fucking business" and let them all die.. Why? Because the actions of others are only showing how lazy the majority are and how selfish and uncaring the majority can be.

    This boy is in dire need of help. If his parents refuse to help him, then what business is it of yours if others wish to step in to help him? If this child had died, you would have been carrying on about how uncaring society is for having allowed this child to die. And when society tries to step in to help him before he dies, you say we should mind our own business. I find that quite interesting to be honest. The fact that you will always take the opposing view. Now do you actually feel that way? Are you really that selfish and uncaring? Or is this a front to get a rise out of people?
  16. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    A parent shoul dbe free to raise their children how they wish, but a parent does not own their children.
    You can not abuse your children, nit just because it is "wrong" but because the rest of us will pay the price as well.
    All our lives are interconnected and we all have a responsibility to one another.

    I agree with Baron that many of the world's problem have arisen from this group of people telling that group of people how to live their lives.
    On the other hand, there is no more imortant aspect to laws and legislation that protecting those who can not protect themselves - most importantly the suffering innocent.
    If a child is being abused, it is our responsibility to step in and end it.

    Parents should be allowed to raise their children how they see fit. Children, however, should not be forced to suffer on account of their parents.

    It's a difficult balance to maintian, but maintaining that balance is a crucial aspect of having healthy communities.
  17. Bells Staff Member

    A call for help maybe? If so, why is she trying to avoid all the appointments with nutritionists and specialists who wish to help her son? As the authorities have said, the last resort will be to take the child into care, but if she continues to ignore the help being offered, then they will have to take that final step.

    Baron made an interesting point. Why don't we mind our own business. I guess the State would have if she had not brought her son into the limelight by inviting a TV crew into her home for a month to see how her son lived and ate.

    No, the worst case would be Connor dying. And well cared for?

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    This is the 8 year old boy in question. He does not look "well cared for".

    I saw a bit of the documentary on the TV. The child was plying through what looked like a huge plate of fried chicken. Hmmm.. maybe if she didn't fry the food and if he wanted snacks offer him fruit and vegetables instead? Might help...

    It seems the child runs the house and she just gives him whatever he wants. So he nags for "snacks and stuff"? Ermmm maybe someone should remind her that as the mother, she can tell her 8 year old the word 'no'. It could mean saving his life in the long run.

    Well cared for indeed.

    As parents, we have a responsibility to not harm our children or place them in situations where harm can come to them. The majority of parents take this responsibility seriously. The mother of this child does not. If I let my son eat whatever he wanted, his diet would consist solely of M & M's, something he is given as a very rare and occasional treat (and one he loves) and when he asks for more than the 3 he has been given as that treat, he is told 'no'. He does not like it and tries to insist, but we don't give it to him. We offer him a piece of apple or other fruit instead. Children have to be told the word 'no' sometimes. It appears that this child has not heard it that much in the past.
  18. leopold Valued Senior Member

    it's called NEGLECT
  19. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    So ...does that mean that you're a news media whore like most of the people in the western world? Whatever the media wants us to worry about, or think about, or feel outrage about, they just put it on the news.

    So we all worry and concern ourselves with this one boy eating too much, while tens of thousands of children in the world starve to death every single day of the year. But that's old news, unworthy of our concern or worry? It's better to worry about this one fat kid who likes to eat?

    See why I keep saying, and believing in, .....IGNORANCE IS BLISS!

    The news media, among others, is leading us by the nose, making us think about whatever they wish ....and we just follow right along with ever thinking of the big picture or trying to put anything into any proper perspective.

    If the tv news shows it, it must be important for our lives!

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    Perhaps "I don't give a fuck!" and "Mind your own fuckin' business!" is the best way for us to live even remotely happy lives.

    Baron Max
  20. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

    Well I'd heard a slightly different story, that the parents(in their opinion) hadn't received any good help when they had visited the doctors so they decided it wasn't beneficial enough to continue going.
    As much as I don't believe what the parents say; Seeing as if he's being fed three normal size meals a day he wouldn't be that size, they could be telling the truth about lack of help and maybe it needs a few weeks to see if there are changes now they are receiving it.
    They also said in that particular article that he refuses to eat anything else, and doesn't like it. So what can they do? Starve him? The problem is that people don't eat what they don't like, and a threat doesn't work on everyone, carried out or not. If he refuses to eat he puts his health at risk anyway and that would get him taken away for sure so maybe they are damned either way.
    They also say he steals the food, so are they to lock everything in the kitchen? Search his room and watch over him 24/7? Don't get me wrong the parents share the responsibility but if the kid knows what this will do to him and he seems perfectly happy to continue then what can realistically be done for him when he won't help himself?

    Bells - Your kid is obviously a lot better behaved at this stage, I'm not sure this kid hasn't heard the word no but that he ignores it, what if your kid began to steal the M&M's? What if he then takes them from elsewhere if he can't get them at home? I think a lot rests on this kid, he is obviously determined and serious about what he does and doesn't like, and I don't think he'd be forced to eat anything he didn't like. The mark of a good parent(and the help they should have) is to find alternatives that he likes and will willingly eat, and to show him exactly how destructive his habits are.
    Parents are always the first people to get the blame, but there is only so much they can do, maybe these ones are lazy and to blame and maybe they aren't so I'm not really defending them but just trying to point a few things out.
    I've not forgotten what it's like to be a kid in that situation and the key was compromise, I spent many a night in my room and without pudding or dinner, but the difference was I was given alternatives, good healthy food that I liked and was happy to eat.
    So to me educating the kids must be the priority, hopefully people can identify and agree with that.
  21. Bells Staff Member

    Media whore? Hardly. This story caught my eye and I decided to share.

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    And I worry about a lot of things that are not deemed popular enough to even appear in the media. This story was interesting in that for the first time, a child's obesity is being deemed as a form of abuse.

    Refer to my comments above.

    And believe me Baron. It sometimes shows.

    You are quite correct. Most of us look at the worlds media and comment on it. You look at the media and sit there with your fingers and your ears saying 'I don't care' like a mantra. But you just can't ever shut up about what you supposedly don't care about.

    You don't care so much that you end up looking like you care more about the issue or the opposition to the issue more than anyone else.

    For you maybe. Not for all.

    Tell me, since you seem to care so much for the millions of dying children in the world (you do bring it up every occasion you can), just what do you do for them Baron? Do you donate money to help feed those starving children? Sponsor a child or two? Because unless you actually do anything, your use of them as any form of argument is not only hypocritical, but down right low.

    I read an article yesterday where the mother was saying her son hates fruits and vegetables, something the dietitians are telling her to give him, so she just gives him processed foods because the child has to eat. She does not want him to go or feel hungry, so she gives him what he likes and will eat, which in turn is what has caused the obesity issues to date.

    Even his mother admits that he eats 2 to 3 times what children his age normally eat and all of it is either fried or processed food.

    She did comment that he tried a piece of apple and he did not like it. What can she do? Gee, I don't know. He likes chips, like all kids I would imagine? Well instead of frying, she could try baking them. Cut back on his salt. Try and encourage him with rewards to eat some fruits and vegetables. Try him on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables until he finds something that he likes. Puree it into his food. Tell him that if he eats a certain amount of serves of fruits and vegetables a week, he can have one meal of whatever he wants once a week.

    And if he is stealing food? Yes, lock the food away. Get rid of every single item of junk food in the house. Simply do not buy it. The parents are pandering to this child in a way that astounds me. The child is 8 years old and will do whatever he can to get what he wants. He's a child, that's what kids do. The parents are the ones in control here, not him.

    If my child started stealing food or eating massive amounts of junk foods on the sly? I would get rid of every item that would appeal to him to steal and he simply would not have the pocket money to buy it outside of the house. This child weighs 89 kilo's. You can't tell me the mother never once noticed something was not right? He did not get like this over night.

    They need to find alternatives, yes you are correct. For example, try baking the stuff he likes instead of dipping it in batter and frying it. Stop buying all forms of junk food or take aways. Have him participate in preparing the meals and make it fun. They show them with a house and yard. Grow a vegetable patch and have him participate in growing the vegetables. Find what vegetables he does like and give him that, same with fruit. Get him exercising as much as he can. If he will only drink soft drinks, give him diet soft drinks or use soda water with natural fruit juice. There are a lot of alternatives for children who are picky. They should have started a hell of a lot earlier than let it get to this stage. I mean this kid is 8 and he weighs more than most adults. That is insane and deadly.

    I understand what you mean. This kid is every parent's worst nightmare. But they should have acted earlier. This did not happen over a short period of time. A child does not reach that weight in a short time.

    I totally agree with you. Children don't hate all fruits and vegetables. Especially young children and toddlers. I have a relative who only gave her daughter the jarred baby food. She never once made anything for her. Her daughter grew up only eating processed foods and refused to eat any vegetables because she was never given proper vegetables as a child. Thankfully she also played a lot of sports and as she reached her teens and saw other kids eating fruits and vegetables, she started to venture into that food range. But in the end, its the parents who teach their children how to eat right from the start.

    My son does not have 'puddings' or desert as such. We don't give him cakes and ice cream for snacks or desert. He gets fresh fruit. His meals always consist of at least 5 different vegetables and we have found that if we give him the vegetables on their own, he won't eat it. He likes foods that have herbs and spices in it, so he basically eats softer versions of what we have. We know the fruits and vegetables he loves and we encourage him to eat those and always ensure he gets those and we try him on different versions of the one's he's not a big fan of. He does not like ice cream and is not a huge fan of cakes. We give him things like cakes and chocolate as really really rare treats. We are trying to teach him to eat the right foods and so far he's doing really well. His little cousin's on the other hand refuse to eat anything other than sweets because their parents have gotten them used to it from when they first started eating. Our son was never given sweet foods at the start, unless it was mashed fruits. So he loves his fruits and berries and we never restrict him from eating those. In short, you mold your child's eating habits from the start and it is the parents job to ensure it continues through their childhood. If a child hates one thing, as a parent you find an alternative instead of just giving in and giving them hot chips and fried junk foods every meal.
  22. 15ofthe19 35 year old virgin Registered Senior Member

    This story brings up a situation that is rapidly becoming a battle-line, at least in the U.S., but I'm sure it wont stop here. The woeful lack of nutrition education is becoming a health crisis that rivals cancer and heart disease, and certainly kills more people than AIDS. Obesity is at epidemic levels, and the costs associated with treating the symptoms are ranging into the hundreds of Billions each year. It shocks me to see the attitude that so many carry toward this problem. When I've made mention of it on another forum, and compared it to alcoholism, I was blasted for even making that comparison. Apparently more than a few people are hyper-sensitive to the notion that food can also be used to self-medicate. The belief is that because most foods are not chemically addictive, like heroine or alcohol, they can never be compared to drugs and alcohol as a self-destructive vehicle. I would disagree, at least from what I've seen around here.

    Parents are using food as an emotional connect to their children, and the kids are paying the ultimate price in being burdened with a lifetime of bad habits that ultimately lead to deadly health consequences. Ask your kid, after he's had his legs amputated at 35 due to diabetes, if it was worth it to have those cookies everyday after school when he was bummed out. Sugar kills. Just like salt. You can't screw around with food, anymore than you can with drugs.

    As for the government getting involved, I'm not a big fan, but then again, if the kid was being given alcohol by the parents, there would be no debate. Ultimately, they are tacitly approving of his behavior by refusing to step up and be the adult. That is irresponsible parenting, and can not be supported on any level. Does that mean they should lose custody? I couldn't say at this point, but I certainly know that it hits all of us in our wallet to stand idly by and watch the next generation setting itself up for a lifetime of prescription drugs, joint replacements, and early deaths due to the health problems associated with being morbidly obese.
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm cautious about taking away parental rights. I draw an uneasy line at public health issues: give your damn kid a damn polio shot so we don't have another damn polio epidemic, or take your asses back to Lower Slobbovia. At some point we have to be willing to let Americans see the consequences of stupidity because Americans are risk-takers and you can't convince them not to do stupid crap any other way. So we have to let a few kids serve as bad examples; I suppose that's just another way of looking at public health.

    But there's no harm in making pariahs out of these parents as long as we don't curtail their constitutional rights. These days we all live in a fishbowl. We let parents raise children believing in racism and fairy tale religions, believing that no matter how angry they make somebody he will never hit them, and believing that they will grow up to be investment bankers even though they can't make change for a dollar without a POS terminal. Is raising them to be morbidly obese significantly worse?

    I feel the same way about these 800-pound adults who can't get out of bed. Who the hell is providing them with all that food? Can't they just say, "You can eat as much as you want when you can walk to the store and buy it"?

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