Almost 17% of children and adolescents, aged 2 – 19 are obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has doubled in the last 30 years. The percentage of children with obesity, in the United States, has increased by 7%, in 1980, to 18% in 2012. What is obesity? Obesity is defined by having too much body fat. As children are incapable of making the right decisions, when it comes to their food and activities, isn’t it the parents’ job to ensure that their kids eat right and get the proper amount of exercise? Is childhood obesity a reflection of parental negligence?
This issue has fueled much controversial theories. However, to date, there has not been much proof on whether parents should be charged with negligence for childhood obesity. As there is very little research that has gone on to prove childhood obesity and parents negligence, it is firstly better to identify how obesity is a symptom of parental neglect.
Obesity, on its own, should not mean a child is being neglected. Sometimes, a child with a family with the strongest family support can have trouble with his or her weight. However, this does not mean that obesity isn’t a symptom of family problems. There has been research showing that childhood neglect and abuse lead to obesity in adulthood. Further research also shows, the decisions parents make while during pregnancy and infancy have a significant impact on the child’s risk of obesity throughout his or her life.
What constitutes as parental neglect? It is simple. Sometimes, not obtaining the proper medical care for chronic illnesses, such as, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, can be termed as parental neglect. Similarly, failure to treat a child’s obesity by missing doctors’ appointments, not supporting treatment programs and not adhering to these treatment programs can be conveyed as parental negligence. This is especially important if the children are at high risk of developing diseases related to childhood obesity that include Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
It is also necessary to find out if other factors also contribute to parental neglect. For example, looking into the child’s emotional and physical health is also important. It is also necessary to collaborate with other caregivers to ensure the child’s health and wellbeing and to ensure these concerns are also shared with the family’s doctor and the child’s teachers.
Are parents at fault when it comes to the health and wellbeing of their child? Sometimes, it is. If a parent fails to implement healthy lifestyle changes for an obese child, knowing the he or she is in danger, and if a parent refuses to admit that her child is obese, then it is the parents fault.
More information on what constitutes as parental negligence where childhood obesity is concerned is necessary before one starts pointing the finger at the parents. Taking a child away from his or her parents just because the child is obese seems cruel and barbaric. However, if it is in the best interests of the child, and if the child is at extreme health risk, this should be the case.