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RareDenver's avatar

Should parents who allow their children to become morbidly obese be charged with neglect?

Asked by RareDenver (13168points) September 9th, 2009

I’ve always thought they should and my wife has just shown me an article where a mother has admitted to overfeeding her toddler because she wants her to ‘be fat like me’

She is giving her 3 year old 3000 calories a day, considering an adult male should have about 2500 and an adult female 2000 I think this child needs to be taken into care.

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37 Answers

bhec10's avatar

Sometimes it’s a disease. In that case no, but otherwise yes, although they can’t always interfere in their children’s life.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

That’s extremely disturbing. If this is true, it’s not as if this mother let certain things slip by her, or didn’t have the time to make the best meals, she intentionally made her child obese, which is abuse, flat out. If true, I think her child should be taken away immediately. What would she do if she smoked cigarettes? Give them to her toddler so she can smoke like mommy? Disgusting.

Facade's avatar

If, in fact, the child has no illnesses which would cause them to gain excessive amounts of weight, yes.

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

Yes, especially in the case presented by the article you mentioned @RareDenver. Any chance you could post it?

ragingloli's avatar

schei├če, mann, das ist krank.
yes they should

rebbel's avatar

I believe i saw a docu once about a culture (don’t remember their name though, but will search) where it was normal to feed children to become fat in order to be a good match/catch for a marriage.
In that case, it might be depending on where you live if it is considered abuse or not.

Judi's avatar

Forcing a kid to become obese is one thing, but come on guys! Our culture promotes processed garbage, and “real” food is either not available or out of price range for most. The whole concept here scares the crap out of me! (And my kids aren’t fat.)

drdoombot's avatar

Yes, parents should be responsible, but at the same time, people are very uneducated about health and nutrition.

Amongst my brothers and I, only one of us became obese. Is it entirely my mother’s fault? She didn’t want her children to be hungry, so the refrigerator was always packed with food. Because of our different body types, only the endomorph became severely overweight, even when he ate healthier than the two ectomorphs.

These situations aren’t that cut and dry and I think it’s hard to hold someone responsible when the nutritional education in this country is so poor.

dalepetrie's avatar

I’d give it as a case by case basis. Clearly someone who intentionally fattens her kid up is different than someone who allows her kid to become obese. There are a number of core reasons by kids become obese, some of it is genetic (and we don’t necessarily understand the “fat” gene yet, so it’s kind of hard to say definitively), but a lot of it is the American diet and our food culture. Unfortunately, most people aren’t well equipped to sort through all the various things that are put in our so-called food supply these days. Most of our foods are laden with hydrogenated oils, high fructose sweeteners, or a lethal combination of fat, salt and sugar which is as addictive as heroin. Furthermore, many of the healthy/natural foods, even if one does educate himself/herself as to what they are, and how to prepare them (it no longer comes naturally now that we are no longer an agriculture based society), are way too expensive for the average Joe. In fact, the cheapest way to eat these days is by going to fast food places….get a happy meal with a burger, fries and a soda for your kid and it includes a toy for under 3 bucks? How you gonna feed junior for less than that?

And I guarantee you, even if you were sensible about 2 meals a day and did one bad thing per day in terms of something like a happy meal or some similar fast food, you’d get pretty damn close to 3k calories a day even for a kid. Our culture is fucked up, we can’t start prosecuting every parent of a fat kid…over ⅔ of kids these days are fat, it’s not as if people just forgot how to parent, it’s that our food supply has been poorly regulated and the goal has been to maximize profits by any means necessary, even if it means we’re all poisoning ourselves every time we eat. Consider too that what we think we know, historically speaking about nutrition will probably be turned on its head in 10 years time. Remember when margarine was a heart healthy alternative to butter? So we put hydrogenated fats in all our foods, and people got FATTER. Sugar has never been all that expense, but high fructose corn syrup is way cheaper for the same amount of sweetness….we put that in all our foods and guess what…people got FATTER. We found out Sweet and Low gives you cancer…..we answered that with Equal which gives you brain tumors. The problem is, we don’t eat fucking food anymore, we eat processed crap because it’s all we can afford, it’s all we know, it’s all we understand and its how we’ve been conditioned. As a fat person, yes my mom gave me food issues, but I don’t want her to go to jail for it, she did her best. I try to keep my kid thin, but he may get fat, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to jail because he has fat parents and wasn’t able to overcome the things I couldn’t overcome myself.

Likeradar's avatar

Yes. Willfully working towards making your child unhealthy should be considered abuse.

bhec10's avatar

@dalepetrie WOW! Lurve for that huge and brilliant answer!

christine215's avatar

I’m on the fence about this…my knee jerk reaction is YES! (as long as the kid doesn’t have some sort of condition) then YES! But then I read @dalepetrie response and I have to think twice… I go OUT OF MY WAY to make sure that my kids get decent food. when I was divorced, and BROKE… McDonalds wasn’t an option for me… maybe things have changed in 15 years. I shopped (and still do for some stuff) at places like Aldi, where I could get a bag of apples for less than a buck. we ate little meat and lots of veggies, beans and rice. (I probably ate healthier then, than I do now come to think of it) I don’t eat fast food AT ALL any more, so I have no clue how much it costs… but if you’re saying that it’s cheaper now to buy your kid a happy meal with soda, fries and grease patty than it is to feed them black beans/rice and some veggies for dinner, then I’d have to go with no, you can’t fault parents that are just trying to feed their kids.

casheroo's avatar

@dalepetrie I thought Sweet & Low was safe, the others weren’t though…?

Parents do it all the time, just maybe not as actively as the person @RareDenver mentioned. We know fast food is bad for our kids, but people obviously still feed their kids it. And the processed foods. I mean, where can you even draw the line with that?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Yep! The kid put that weight on one pound at a time with the parent’s permission. Our health care system has to pay for this. – Criminal.

mrentropy's avatar

I agree with @dalepetrie. I’ll also add that processed foods have a longer shelf life which lets the food keep longer while it’s on its way from the huge conglomerate’s warehouse to the huge conglomerate grocery/super store.

I kind of wish it were possible to get local things at a reasonable price.

rooeytoo's avatar

Usually fat children have fat parents and it is because of their eating habits or genetic makeup. How could you ever legislate or fairly enforce such a law????

But I don’t think the eating habits of today are based solely on food prices. Processed foods and fast food restaurants are generally more expensive than fresh foods, but they are just that, fast and readily available. It is cheaper to make your own spaghetti with meat sauce than to buy it in a can. There are many cuts of meat that are very inexpensive but must be cooked slowly to tenderize. Bags of frozen veg are very inexpensive and according to most, just as healthy as fresh. And if it is a family where all adults work
crock pots from wal mart are a good investment. But it takes time and energy and a lot of people would rather buy a cheeseburger, fries and shake and blame the government or anyone else for not educating them or for making fast food too available, or for marketing too cleverly. Regardless of the reason, in most cases how much you weigh comes down to the choices you make.

Facade's avatar

@rooeytoo I was just thinking about that exact point you made. I ate a cheeseburger from Wendy’s at least four times a week for several years, and I know a lot of people who grew up with similar diets. In my case it wasn’t about laziness, but in most times, like what you mentioned, it is. And that’s sad.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It seems like the US is under the delusion that prosecution cures all of society’s problems.
Treatment is a better option than prosecution in these cases. I don’t see how prosecuting the family leads the child to start eating better.

sunshine123's avatar

In my opinion… absolutely.

mass_pike4's avatar

no they should just be responsible to pay for every last penny of their child’s health care for life. That’ll bite um in the ass

YARNLADY's avatar

No, the parents and the children should be placed in a mandatory nutrition/exercise program.

Darwin's avatar

Considering what our schools consider to be healthy and nutritious lunch offerings (pizza, tacos, chicken nuggets) I can’t see how we can fault parents who raise fat kids.

dalepetrie's avatar

@bvdshec17 – if you think my answer was “long”, you clearly haven’t been here very long….that would be considered by most on here to be one of my shorter answers. So, since you’re new or at very least new to me, allow me to welcome you to Fluther!

@casheroo – ummm, no. Sweet N Low is sacccharine. Saccarine was found to cause cancer in lab animals in 1977. It carried a label on all products that contained it which said, “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.” The warning was dropped in 2000, not because of a new finding, but because consumer advocates tried to get it taken off the market and the industry pushed HARD the other direction and got the FDA to play ball.

RareDenver's avatar

@MrMeltedCrayon It was a magazine article so I have scanned it for you, page1 and page2

I also understand that you can’t go around prosecuting every parent that has a fat kid but being a parent or guardian carries with it a duty of care which includes caring for their health, you would take a child into care if it’s parents gave it access to alcohol or drugs. Access to excessive amounts of junk food can cause just as much damage to the body.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think it is too bad that a parent allows a kid to eat too much, and in a perfect world that wouldn’t happen. But isn’t it better to have a fat kid with a parent who knows where he/she is and looks after the kid than a skinny kid running loose on the streets?

People make jokes about Americans and how they want to sue everyone for everything. The jails are overcrowded now, not enough foster parents, but now parents who overfeed their kids are going to be prosecuted. What next, send them to jail if the children are dirty or constipated or get head lice. And why stop with fat kids, why don’t you just prosecute all people who eat too much and get fat themselves and why stop there, let all who don’t exercise or take care of themselves properly, the list is endless.

RareDenver's avatar

@rooeytoo OP here, read my comment just above yours

rooeytoo's avatar

That looks like the format of a sensational supermarket checkout womens magazine. Sort of like a Jerry Springer type thing in print.

Nonetheless my only contention is that you can’t control everyone and make it illegal not to do it your way. There are south sea islanders who value big people, they are mostly all huge. It is the way some people want to be.

If you use the argument about health care costs then you have to go after everyone who does anything not healthy. How about people who don’t wash their hands before they eat, they catch more colds. How about people who drink, eat too much red meat.

Keep yourself healthy, raise your children to be skinny, well behaved members of society and don’t read trashy mags is the best way to do it.

RareDenver's avatar

@rooeytoo admittedly it is a trashy mag, I tell my wife this all the time but the reality is we see this happening more and more, it just seems that people more and more treat their children like lifestyle accessories as opposed to people.

And whe I was saying read my comment I didn’t necessarily mean the actual article but more my comment below it.

rooeytoo's avatar

Every night when I turn on the news there is something about how fat people are getting. One night it is about airlines and the small seats. I just read something about a woman who said she only weighs 55 k and the guy beside her weighs 120, why should she have to pay for excess baggage when she and her luggage didn’t weigh as much as the guy by himself. Here in Australia it is always on the news about fat Americans are but now the aussies are close to overtaking them. In most cases people are overweight because they eat too much. And don’t forget in adults, alcohol is pretty fattening too.

I gather your children are skinny, what if one of them develops a taste for donuts and every time they leave the house they eat donuts and gain weight. Now how are you going to stop that??? People can’t keep their kids from drugs and they are illegal, donuts are not. Do you want to go to jail because your kid eats donuts???

It just seems unrealistic to me. But if you can figure out a way to make it work, and figure out how to take care of this whole new huge batch of neglected children who I assume you would take away from these bad parents, go to it!

Darwin's avatar

All I know is that I have two children. One is fat and one is thin but both were raised on the same foods and exposed to the same activity levels. Sometimes you have to put the onus of being overweight where it really belongs: on the individual.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

This is not so criminal but it is sick and wrong to inflict on a child. Both need help now.

Oakland's avatar

I don’t know exactly where the line is….but when it gets to the point where they completely overfeed, intentionally to the point the can get them “Fat like me”........then yes and that is well past the line….

Zen's avatar

@Oakland Welcome to fluther!

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