by R.B. Cooper | June 7, 2014 1:18 am
Parents are responsible for the welfare of their children. If they knowingly put the child in danger, there are consequences. If the parent purposely causes harm, they are put in jail. If the parent inadvertently puts the child in danger, such as leaving a child in a locked car or leaving them home alone, they are often charged with a crime. And if the child is neglected or malnourished, you can bet there will be hell to pay with Child Protective Services. We see these cases of child abuse daily and rarely is there debate about whether or not the parent deserves punishment.
But what if the child is obese? Is this a form of child abuse? England has decided that yes, this is a crime and have arrested the parents of an obese child on grounds of child cruelty. The parents are fighting the charges, claiming that ‘the family is predisposed to obesity‘. Mom says, “his weight isn’t that much of a big deal… It’s genetics–you can be genetically fat“.
Oh, MOMMA MIA… there is a plethora of scientific evidence that does NOT support your claim. Without going into the gory detail of how food affects your body–specifically how the glycemic load of the foods you eat affect your blood sugar and your body’s fat storage–it is a well-documented, scientific fact that if you eat the right kinds of foods, your body will function properly and burn calories. Eat the wrong kinds of foods with a high glycemic index, and your body will store fat. The ‘genetic predisposition’ most refer to is actually a lifetime of poor eating habits that have caused the body to malfunction when it tries to processing food. This malfunction (due to poor nutrition) causes obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and insulin-resistant illnesses like diabetes. This is common sense, right? Or is it…
What do parents really know about nutrition? Sure, we learn it in grade school, but we are bombarded daily with unhealthy food choices. It is easy to forget or get fooled by the misleading ‘whole grain’ and ‘low fat’ food labels. I often wonder, why don’t doctors warn parents about the dangers of eating too much sugar, too many processed foods, too many snacks with preservatives, and too much fast food? There seems to be a colossal disconnect between medical science and nutrition. Medical doctors in the United States will be the first to tell you that they are not taught anything about nutrition in medical school. (Most will say it’s the job of the nutritionist!) Doctors are instead taught pharmaceutical medicine. In other words, they learn about diseases and how to treat the symptoms with medicines. We see it every day, and it is carrying over now to our children. So when we look at an obese child and blame the parents, let’s stop for a minute and think. Whose fault is it? Yes, parents should have some common sense. They should care enough about the health of their family to do research into health and nutrition, especially if a child is at risk. But is that the full story?
Childhood obesity is a disease that affects not only the physical health of the child, but also their mental well being. It will set the course on who they will become. Parents play a large role in this responsibility. But we should also be able to rely on our doctors for guidance when it come to our health care. Nutrition is the cornerstone of good health. If doctors don’t understand this, then why on earth are they doctors? First do no harm.
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