Originally Posted by AnkaJones
There are specific syndromes associated with severe obesity like you describe, including specific genetic mutations, e.g. leptin resistence (leptin is a hormone which controls energy intake and expenditure including appetite), Prader Willi Syndrome. These are actually specifically mentioned in the op/ed, along with the possibility there are other as yet identified mutations. The authors argue, however, that because these diagnoses don't have treatments, they don't obviate their arguement.
I understand where you're coming from. One of the problems with obesity as a disease is that it is highly stigmatized. We want to blame it on someone, either the patient or the parent. In some cases, weight gain really is someone's fault. I would be the first to argue that as a society, we are committing social injustice when we fail to provide access to healthy foods both in school and at home, as well as places and time where children and teenagers can play actively. I think we should fund programs to help parents (often obese themselves) take care of themselves better so that they can model good behavior for their children and understand what constitutes a healthy meal. At the same time, I think it is the parent's and in the case of older adolescents the child's responsibility to fully access and use the resources presented to them. In extreme cases, I agree that the failure to do this constitutes neglect. But that is what has to be documented, not the mere fact of obesity however severe.
Again, I'm not talking about obesity. I'm talking about children who are in danger of dying b/c they are so huge. The girl at the camp I worked at did lose weight while she was with us, but we could not keep her for long enough to make a real impact b/c her health conditions were too much for us to handle. Seriously, we were afraid she was going to drop dead, or not wake up in the morning. The other girls at camp were overweight, but they certainly weren't in danger of dying - they just wanted to lose weight, learn healthier eating habits (we had a range of girls and young women from about 10-26yo), and I would not advocate taking them away from their parents. Ever. Only the one girl - whose health problems had become so dangerous she wasn't even allowed to exercise most of the time, b/c just walking around campus was so difficult and caused so many problems.
I don't know why she was so big, but no one even tried to do anything about it until she was SO huge, that she was 3-4times my size. And I was pregnant at the time.
In situations where the child is not so large as to be in danger of literally dropping dead, yes, there should be MAJOR support systems in place to help people change their lifestyle and eating habits. It would be better for entire families to have access to healthy, whole foods, and fruits and vegetables. Its a shame that healthy foods are so expensive, I wish that they were more accessible to everyone. In moderate cases, I think that should be the goal - and schools should be serving healthy foods as well! But then what do you do about children who bring their lunch, and its full of junk?
Its a very complicated issue, and there isn't a single solution. Once a child gets dangerously large (again, I'm not talking about fat, or chubby, or even moderately obese children - I'm talking about those on the high end of morbidly obese), there health needs to be whats considered - and getting them somewhere that they are encouraged to exercise and eat healthy, and are provided healthy options, should be the most important.