Dr Oz: Childhood Obesity. Should Parents Be Charged With Child Abuse?

Is childhood obesity child abuse?The Dr Oz Show featured a controversial subject to address the nation’s growing childhood obesity problem.  It is such a growing concern that an increasing number of prosecutors across the country say yes.  There have been cases across the United States where children have been pulled from their homes and placed in foster care.  Are parents really to blame and should they be charged with child abuse for allowing their child to become obese?

On the show we were introduced to several overweight children and their parents to hear their stories and to hear if those parents thought they were abusing their children.

12 year old Victoria weighs 185 pounds. Dr. Oz says a normal weight for a 12 year old girl is about 117 pounds. Her mother, Patricia, says she does not blame herself for her daughter’s obesity.  She said it is genetics.  But she admits that she does let her daughter over eat.  But she says they walk together and eat meals together. She does not consider the obesity as child abuse.

11 year old Javier weighs 165 pounds. Dr. Oz says a normal weight for an 11 year old boy is about 103 pounds. Javier says he is afraid he can have a heart attack and die.  His mother, Fantei, says she blames herself for her part of the problem but she says she feels that Javier is old enough to make his own choices. When asked about the M&M’s around the house for him to eat she said why should she deprive herself when it is Javier that shouldn’t eat them.  She does not consider childhood obesity as child abuse.

Toni is a mother of four pre-teen and teen girls all of whom are very overweight. Toni says her parents never taught her to cook healthy, so she doesn’t cook healthy for her family.  They live basically on a diet of potato chips, sugary processed cereals, high saturated fat like cheese and bacon, cookies, candy, soda and they shop like this everyday.

Dr. Oz was flabbergasted at the fact that the mother whom he said looks intelligent and looks like she knows what is healthy for her children and yet she feeds her family this unhealthy diet.  Toni’s response was “that is what we like to eat…that’s what the girls like…that’s what we are used to… It’s easier and cheaper…It’s cheaper to eat bad food.”

Meme Roth with The National Action Against Obesity passionately voiced her opinion that obesity is absolutely a form of child abuse.  She said our children are not old enough to make the right decision and when we surround them with dangerous food we are endangering our children.  She said yes, the whole world has turned into a concession stand and it is not fair, but these are our babies and as parents, if they become sick the buck stops with us.  She said that genetics is not an excuse.  She said her mother, father, grandfather and all her relatives are morbidly obese. (She is of normal weight.)

Dr Corey Hebert Pediatrician at Tulane University Hospital says the reality is that the parents are at fault. He says he sees all around him children in cars eating snacks, children in church pews eating snacks. He thinks that if your child has an illness that is bought on by weight,  the parents should have mandated education to stop the trend.

Dr. Oz says if we intervene in cases where children are being neglected or malnurished,  should we not step in when the children are obese.  Kids cannot protect themselves.  Dr. Oz  said that  parents by giving in to their children, may be hurting them in ways that may not be reversible.  Dr. Oz says when he looks at an obese child..

  • he sees an increase amount of fluid buildup around the brain and with that an impaired ability to think.
  • he sees the heart. High cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure.  These things have never been seen before in teenagers and he is starting to see arteries blocked off in kids that look like 50-year-olds.
  • he sees the bones.  Knee and hip pain which are usually reserved for older folks. The bones are literally bowing under the pressure of the extra weight that they are forced to carry.

There are nine states that mandate body mass index texting for children and they send those results home along with nutritional and exercise advice. A state lawmaker in Illinois is suggesting that parents lose the child tax credit if their child is obese.

So, how should society protect children in danger from childhood obesity?  Should we remove them from the home?

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