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Parents Are Responsible, Accountable for Child Obesity

Between fast-food value meals, $5 foot-longs, and dollar menus, it is no wonder that American waistlines keep expanding. But it is not just adults who have to loosen their belts; kids are too, some much more than others. 

This past October, a 200-pound third grader from Cleveland was removed from his home and placed in foster care. Cleveland Height authorities charged his mother with endangering his health, taking the child away for his own good. Since then, there has been controversy about whether it was ethical for the state to step in and take a child out his home due to his weight. The tension is heightened even more when considering the copious amount of advertisements of greasy and sugary foods sanctioned by the state.

As much as I agree with the fact that junk food and unhealthy snacks shouldn’t be pushed on children, children’s access to these things are really determined by the authority figures around them. Something tells me that this little Cleveland boy didn’t buy his own Happy Meals. Parents are responsible for their child’s health, and a nutritious and well-balanced diet plays a major role in keeping a child healthy – parents should not be giving children every sugary cereal they want despite their temper tantrums.

At 200 pounds, the child is at risk for various diseases like hypertension and diabetes. However, he has yet to suffer from any of these conditions. In Cuyahoga County alone, it is estimated that 12% of kids – over 1,000 children – are overweight or obese. The national percentage is even higher, with the CDC reporting that about 17% of kids and adolescents aged 2-19 are overweight or obese. That’s a ridiculous number by any means. And the numbers are only increasing. 

But is foster care really the best option? The Department of Children and Family Services thinks so. Department spokeswoman, Mary Louise Madigan issued a statement saying that the boy’s condition was so severe that taking custody away from his mother was necessary. In spite of his obesity, the child was a normal, active third grader who was even on the honor roll. Additionally, his sleep apnea was being treated with the aid of a breathing machine. It is arguable that this preemptive strike is more of a political statement than a way to protect the child’s physical and emotional well being. However, that does not negate the psychological damage, such as low self-esteem, that can come with suffering from childhood obesity.

The child has been living in foster care since October 19th, when he was initially removed from his home. A trial date ahs been set in the upcoming month to determine if he can returned to his home or will remain under the state’s care.

The real issue is that these unhealthy options are cheap, fast, and convenient, while healthy foods can be hard to find and very expensive in some neighborhoods. So until fast food chains start selling grilled salmon filets with a side of steam vegetables with the ease and speed of a greasy burger, this problem isn’t going anywhere soon.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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