Parents of Obese Youngsters: Clean Up Your Acts … or Suffer the Financial Penalty

Childhood obesity (like adult obesity) is rampant. Giving rise to and/or setting children up for serious related medical conditions. And forcing kids onto more and more chronic medications at young ages.

Government agencies are beginning to examine this financially and socially costly problem harder and harder, and from various angles, in the hope of making a dent in it.

The latest approach under consideration is to hit parents who are not part of the solution where it just may hurt them the most: their wallets.

The venue is Puerto Rico, where twenty-eight (28%) of children, nearly a third, are obese.

Some legislators there have introduced a bill intended to give parents incentive to play a more proactive role in being part of the solution, by encouraging healthier choices and lifestyles.

The “incentive” is avoidance of an $800 fine to parents whose obese children don’t lose weight within a generous time frame of six months to a year.

The bill sets up a legislative framework under which public schools flag apparent cases of childhood obesity, alert their parents, refer their family to a social worker and, last but not least, involve the health department.

The health department is charged with determining whether the childhood obesity is the result of lifestyle or a medical cause. If the conclusion is lifestyle, health department personnel would devise a diet and exercise program, and monitor compliance and progress via monthly home visits.

The family would be allowed up to a year to demonstrate progress before imposition of the fine.

Some members of The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Puerto Rico chapter reportedly have been critical of the bill.

At present, one can only speculate whether such legislation would in fact chip away at the problem.

Which may be viewed as a social problem. Certainly the infrastructure and mechanism contemplated here parallels that of child protective social services.

Read more in this Yahoo Parenting article from the Associated Press: Parents of Obese Kids Could Be Fined $800 if New Law Passes