Overweight children - is it parental neglect? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Whose fault is it if a child is overweight? I saw a TV show at one point with very overweight kids and it seemed in those cases that the parents ate poorly and fed the kids the same stuff they ate, and as much as the kids wanted. And also that the kids were inside all the time and didn't get a lot of exercise. In that case, it did seem like the parents were neglectful to me.

But then there are tons of kids who are overweight but not to that extreme. Is there a point where it seems like parental neglect to you?
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#2 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 10:33 AM
 
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Whose fault is it if a child is overweight? The parent (s) and or caregiver-the source of the main diet of the child - IMO
 
 Is there a point where it seems like parental neglect to you? Yes

 

We live next to NJ and while this has been spoken about nationally, it's also been discussed locally as well because of the recent surgery by Gov Chris Christie 

http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2013/05/13/governor-christies-weight-loss-surgery/

 

Personally I view the parents (and or those the child resides with) as the primary accountable party if they are the primary diet source.

I view neglect as the same as if there was another eating disorder (anorexia bulimia) - if that was being inflect upon a child, that too would be neglect-IMO

I view eating disorders in the same category as alcoholism or drug abuse - all are addictions when taken to extremes and grounds for neglect.

I view morbid obesity (as in this definition - http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/highland/departments-centers/bariatrics/right-for-you/morbid-obesity.aspx) a serious threat to a child (as in neglect) when a child is parented by a adult who is food addicted.

 

 

 

One recent remark by the Gov Christie really alarms me

My 12-year-old son came to me and said, ‘Dad, are you goona die?’ 

Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/political-potpourri/2013/may/7/no-fat-presidents-nj-governor-chris-christy-and-la/#ixzz2U8Zb4yGk 
 

 

If you are raising a child and at 12 they don't know that being 100+ lbs over weight is a REAL health issue- IMO you have done a bad job with your child- I feel very sad for children being raised this way. 

 

There is a big difference (and clearly here with the Gov of NJ it shows) the means to be educated and the means to provide healthy food, this is not the case of uneducated on what is junk food and what is sizable portions or lack of money to buy health food, it's clearly a choice the parent is making. If that parent as abusing another thing, it would impact the child, I see no difference here with food.

 

IMO- until our society sees food obsession as addiction (as we do other addictions) we are not going to be able to even start to treat this - when you see how large as a society we are becoming it is alarming how this will impact our society down the road and the means to provide health care (not only costs but manpower) if you have a large portion of society that may not be able to contribute  


 

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#3 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 11:01 AM
 
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I consider this a very complex issue, and I would not be confident saying that if one sees an overweight child, one can assume that neglect is the cause.

 

I speak as someone who has family members who have struggled with anorexia/bulemia, and other family members who are overweight or obese. In all cases, there are definite genetic components to the behavior. The overweight/obese members of my family eat very healthy diets and get regular exercise. So there's clearly a genetic component to their body shape/size. The anorexia/bulemia issues are extremely complex, but in all cases, the family members impacted were teenagers when they lost a parent to cancer, as well as there being other factors (some of them probably genetic) involved.

 

So, I personally would not jump to conclusions.

 

Also, I have heard of cases where a child was taken away from the family because of being overweight, and I find that very disturbing. For us to decide as a society that you are only a "fit" parent if you conform to a certain body image is a really dangerous place to go, IMO.

 

I recognize that poor diet and obesity are growing problems in America. I just don't think the way to deal with it is to declare parents "neglectful".


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#4 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 11:12 AM
 
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It probably varies a LOT from case to case.  Yes,  I think parents are the primary responsible parties, but considering the bad nutritional advice they are usually presented with (you don't have to look far to get the message that diet pop is a "healthy" choice, but whole milk isn't), and considering the rise of car-culture, and financial pressures, and the problems with the food supply, and how hard it is to get good healthcare, I think it's easy for even well-meaning parents to get into a set of unhealthy habits that can lead to weight issues for the whole family.  There's a lot of pressure to conform, and it's gotten to the point where eating a truly healthy diet and living an active lifestyle is an act of non-conformity in a lot of communities.
 

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#5 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 11:13 AM
 
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I recognize that poor diet and obesity are growing problems in America. I just don't think the way to deal with it is to declare parents "neglectful".

ITA. I can't imagine taking kids away from their parents can be anything but harmful. Way to set up a kid for a lifelong disorder and linking eating to unhealthy feelings of guilt by removing him from his parents!

 

It could be considered neglectful if the parents were fully aware that their child was extremely obese and were completely uninterested in trying to guide the child towards a more healthful lifestyle despite being educated enough to know that would entail. But I suspect 99.9% of parents with overweight children don't have as much support and knowledge as they need to help their children. Not having resources or not being aware of resources isn't neglectful. 


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#6 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 11:16 AM
 
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But I suspect 99.9% of parents with overweight children don't have as much support and knowledge as they need to help their children. Not having resources or not being aware of resources isn't neglectful. 


Yes. And obesity disproportionately affects the poor, who are also more likely to live in food deserts or who may not be able to afford high quality food.

 

I'm more inclined to look at food & health as social justice issues.


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#7 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 02:37 PM
 
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I think it's hard to say. A lot of kids are drugged for various things like adhd these days and that can also contribute to weight gain. I think there are cases where a parent is at fault but there are also many other factors and it is hard to say what is going on even if on the surface it seems like a no brainer.
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#8 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 03:03 PM
 
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If truly unhealthy foods were not available, this would be less of an issue. Isn't it true, for example, that trans fats are illegal in some countries? If trans fats are banned, and high fructose corn syrup banned, or at least limited, and other improvements made to the foods available, then we wouldn't need to be checking what parents are feeding to their children, as closely, anyway. And if black market food items became available, then it would be clearer that the parents were not doing their jobs.
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#9 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 05:48 PM
 
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You can't judge another person's parenting by looking at their kid. That's just being judgmental, without even having all the information.

 

Some parents make decisions about their kids food that isn't the greatest. None the less, compared to some of the REAL CRISES with children, it's a small problem.

 

I work in a school where kids take home extra food for days off because their families don't have enough. I just can't get all worked up over someone else giving their kid a doughnut. We have bigger problems as a society.
 

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#10 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 11:08 PM
 
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in general - not looking at individual cases but the whole issue i feel it is a social problem.

 

who is at fault - the government? corporations?

 

it all began with Wonder bread right? mothers were guilted into serving wonder bread to their family and instead of cooking they were supposed to spend more time with their family. and so food started being processed ...

 

... and slowly we forgot about nutrition, or even how to cook.

 

as science progressed so did food science and with the discovery of the bliss point food went to a whole nother level. addiction. 

 

that is about nutrition. 

 

about exercise? i dont know who to pin it on. ourselves? paranoia? or government? not enough support to families to give them opportunities to be out. 

 

its easy to blame the parents. the onus is on someone else. 

 

bottom line - personally i feel i am to blame. i just take care of my family but i dont do enough - dont take a stance to help the families around me - those who lovingly put mountain dew in baby bottles so the baby will hush up and give the parents enough time to rest before they have to be off to another job. i may have the privilege to boycott those companies but what am i trying to do to at least have others understand the labels they read. 

 

why are they even allowed to manufacture those things. dd's coconut milk icecream. ridiculous. half a cup of icecream 11 gms of fat. how many people eat one scoop of icecream. its mostly always two including my dd - and that's 22 gms of fat right there. 

 

i get the whole healthy fat debate. 

 

which parent will knowingly 'do something harmful' their child. i am not including messed up parents here.  


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#11 of 196 Old 05-23-2013, 11:33 PM
 
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I'm not sure it started with Wonder Bread, but what meemee is saying is along the same lines as what I am saying. Instead of wondering if the parents are negligent, we should be setting limits on just how bad food is allowed to be. Actually look for solutions instead of who is to blame.
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#12 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 05:03 AM
 
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You can't judge another person's parenting by looking at their kid. That's just being judgmental, without even having all the information.

 

Some parents make decisions about their kids food that isn't the greatest. None the less, compared to some of the REAL CRISES with children, it's a small problem.

 

I work in a school where kids take home extra food for days off because their families don't have enough. I just can't get all worked up over someone else giving their kid a doughnut. We have bigger problems as a society.
 

 

 

Exactly.  When there are so many kids not getting enough food, I'm not going to judge quality of what they can get.  Some of the cheaper foods to buy are the worst but if you start wagging your fingers at their parents for doing what they can then you need to open up your own damn perfect pantry.  And it's not just about what they eat either there are a lot of genetic factors at play. 

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#13 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 08:08 AM
 
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it all began with Wonder bread right? mothers were guilted into serving wonder bread to their family and instead of cooking they were supposed to spend more time with their family. and so food started being processed ...

 

Wonder Bread is not the problem.  Wonder Bread was far and away NOT the first commercially produced bread available.  In fact, bread is one of the very first things that ever was commercially produced.  Historically, bread baking has been a skilled profession, and the vast majority of people have purchased bread produced outside their homes.  Making bread at home takes time, skill, and a giant piece of technology (an oven) which we tend to take for granted.  My great-grandmother's recipe for Christmas turkey includes a reminder to start heating the oven on December 23rd - do you think she baked her own bread?  There are some particular issues with Wonder Bread, but it's not responsible for the shift from home cooking to pre-prepared, processed foods.

 

Going further:  I don't think that mothers who choose to spend time with their families instead of spending time cooking are the source of the obesity crises that we're seeing in public health in the United States.  Both of the choices that you mention (time cooking vs. time with family) are choices made with a relatively high quantity of a particular resource.  Either way, the mother in question has available leisure time, and can decide how to use it.  I think the real health crisis is occurring among families where parents are working two or three jobs to make ends meet and have no time for either of these options, and among urban poor families, whose access to good food is limited by financial and transportation concerns, and who limit their children's activity levels because of safety concerns. 

 

I agree with CI Mama that food and health are social justice issues.  Before we judge anyone over their child's weight, we need to address the systemic problems that lead to that condition.  There are a lot of those problems.  The epidemic of obesity we're seeing in (especially poor) children is a symptom of some major social ills.  We can't fix it, for an individual or for society as a whole, by condemning parents.

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#14 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 01:06 PM
 
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Wonder Bread is not the problem.  Wonder Bread was far and away NOT the first commercially produced bread available. 

oh no. wonder bread is not about commercially available food. it is about emotional and social manipulation by commercials. 

 

i have a lot of old friends and they remember their change to wonder bread - because their moms felt guilty spending time away from the family making bread. instead they bought wonder bread. 

 

commercially available food didnt become a problem till the 70s (i think) when they invented high fructose corn syrup. they discovered bliss point. no industry limitation of how much salt, sugar, fat to use and boom - world wide addiction. and its spreading. 


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#15 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 02:23 PM
 
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Meemee, I'm confused. Wonder Bread wasn't the ztart of socially or emotionally manipulative advertising either. That's been around as long as there's been advertising.

There have never been industrial limitations on how much salt, sugar or fat went into food. There have sometimes been labelling requirements.
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#16 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 02:44 PM
 
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a slice of Wonder Bread is not an end all to me, a slightly over weight child because of meds is also not the same as morbid obesity and chronic health problems (because of the excess weight) that bring on an early death


 

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#17 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 03:02 PM
 
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You can't judge another person's parenting by looking at their kid. That's just being judgmental, without even having all the information.

 

 

 

 

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#18 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 04:57 PM
 
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meepy wonder bread was the first product that made a mom feel guilty for slaving over the stove. they were the first to attack the mom zone. on radio in the 30s. sorry not tv commercials. they were not the first. 

 

so for me wonder bread is just an example of commercial manipulation around food. 


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#19 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 05:09 PM
 
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The fact is we are unlikely to go back in time to when everything is made at home. Better regulation of the foods available would address the actual issue.
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http://www.networkforphl.org/the_network_blog/2012/06/06/112/child_obesity_and_parental_rights


 

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#21 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 06:09 PM
 
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This issue is really, really complex. Pointing the finger at parents will do nothing but create a bigger problem. People need compassion, education, and an ethical standard among corporations and government.

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#22 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 07:36 PM
 
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meepy wonder bread was the first product that made a mom feel guilty for slaving over the stove. they were the first to attack the mom zone. on radio in the 30s. sorry not tv commercials. they were not the first. 

so for me wonder bread is just an example of commercial manipulation around food. 

I thought the first was TV dinners.
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#23 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 07:58 PM
 
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Isn't neglect purposefully not giving children what they need?  Isn't it an all encompassing problem?  A way of life and of parenting?  Could you call extremely loving and attentive parents neglectful because of a food addiction?  Isn't that judging a parent's entire job based upon the weight of their child?  Isn't it judging and labeling them based upon their greatest weakness?  And isn't it judging them based upon what they can see (weight) rather than the actual scientific reality (health?)

 

Then is it also neglectful for a parent to smoke?  What about parents who don't give vitamins?  The AAP is against bed sharing.  Should bed sharing parents then be considered neglectful?  

 

Obviously I don't think any of that is neglect.  It's just a slippery slope.  But it seems that all of these discussions about neglect (in many different forums) center around food, and I can't help but think it ties in with our entire society's view and judgment of weight issues.  It would seem to me that smoking really is more harmful to kids that weight, but you never hear people wonder if that is neglect.  


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#24 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 08:22 PM
 
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I most definitely would not blame the parents without knowing the situation.  I remember my overweight childhood friend was not allowed to eat sugar (because her mom was so concerned about her weight/appearance.)  On her way home from school, she and her brother would stop at the gas station and buy lots of candy bars and then go and lock themselves in the gas station bathroom to eat them in secret before they went home.  Food addiction starts early and for a variety of reasons, not just because parents give kids too much junk food.

 

Another person I know has battled food addiction and obesity his entire life.  He had a similar situation as a child.  His mother was concerned about nutrition and banned any unhealthy foods.  When his dad would give him ice cream, his mom would sprinkle wheat germ on it before he ate it...So when he was alone, he would eat an entire container of Breyer's mint chip. 

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#25 of 196 Old 05-24-2013, 09:36 PM
 
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Genetics plays a huge part as well. I am on the other end. I can eat crappy food and not exercise And I might gain five pounds, MIGHT. Just because I'm thin genetically does that mean I am healthy on the inside? Nope. So it goes both ways. I guess what does bother me though is seeing really really obese toddlers with sodas in their bottles or soppy cups. It would be cheaper to put water... Things like that. I think education is key.

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#26 of 196 Old 05-25-2013, 05:24 PM
 
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In some cases I think portion control might be the issue. I know I am completely lost on what a toddler size portion is, so I just give DS what I think he'll eat. Some children might be more likely to eat everything in front of them, either from being trained or just having a natural tendency.

I think labels need to include portion sizes for younger people, not just adults. Of course, most adults don't follow the portion recommendations on packages. Who eats just 13 chips or the correct serving size of ice cream? I know a lot of people on mothering don't ever have "junk" food in their homes, but most people do...

 

I agree with Dovey, it seems like heavy children have a supply of snacks outside the home. A friend I had as a child was probably 2x the ideal weight and despite her mother's attempts at getting her to eat better, my friend was able to use her allowance and other funds to get the food she wanted.


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#27 of 196 Old 05-25-2013, 05:40 PM
 
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In terms of portion control - I don't like limiting children's access to food.  Their appetites are inconsistent, and they melt down when they're hungry.  Every now and then, DS will have a few days where he's achey and whiny and hungry all the time, and then he wakes up taller.  I don't keep junk around, and I limit the supply of treats.  I allow only one dessert per child per day (and I know they get candy and junk at school and in aftercare, and I hate that, but I don't want to get into power struggles about it).  My kids are well aware that the first helping of dinner is going to be the most exciting, the second is probably pretty close, and once I run out of stuff I made for dinner, we're into leftovers.  A child who asks for more food knowing that "more" means "leftover spaghetti with pesto and broccoli" is, IMO, genuinely hungry, and should not be prevented from eating.

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#28 of 196 Old 05-25-2013, 07:02 PM
 
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It's easy to point fingers and blame parents. 

 

My youngest eats like a horse. Always has. We stopped going out to dinner when she ate two orders of fried mac & cheese as an app, a 16 oz steak w/a salad, baked potato, veggies, dessert. And a third order of mac & cheese. Ice cream when we got home. 

 

And before you all gasp? She weighs in at 110 and is an athlete. She NEEDS that food. 

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#29 of 196 Old 05-26-2013, 12:21 AM
 
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Pushing babies to eat, then being surprised when they fail to realize when they are full when they're older is an issue. Education can help with that.

Worrying about whether or not the parent(s) is/are neglecting may not correct the problem as much as identifying underlying causes of obesity, and addressing those with practical change. Education may be a part of the process. Only if the parent(s) is/are uncooperative would I worry about about neglect or abuse.
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#30 of 196 Old 05-26-2013, 05:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by AmandaK View Post

Isn't neglect purposefully not giving children what they need?  Isn't it an all encompassing problem?  A way of life and of parenting?  Could you call extremely loving and attentive parents neglectful because of a food addiction?  Isn't that judging a parent's entire job based upon the weight of their child?  Isn't it judging and labeling them based upon their greatest weakness?  And isn't it judging them based upon what they can see (weight) rather than the actual scientific reality (health?)

 

Then is it also neglectful for a parent to smoke?  What about parents who don't give vitamins?  The AAP is against bed sharing.  Should bed sharing parents then be considered neglectful?  

 

Obviously I don't think any of that is neglect.  It's just a slippery slope.  But it seems that all of these discussions about neglect (in many different forums) center around food, and I can't help but think it ties in with our entire society's view and judgment of weight issues.  It would seem to me that smoking really is more harmful to kids that weight, but you never hear people wonder if that is neglect.  

 

 

Def agree here. 

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Health , Underage And Overweight Americas Childhood Obesity Epidemic What Every Parent Needs To Know

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