Supersize My Child Please & A Portion Of Chips To Go!
August 20, 2011
Obesity In Children, Is It A Cancerous Child Abuse?
As a recent father, now of two with the addition of a beautiful daughter, my thoughts go back to when my son was a newborn and my wifes’ determination to breastfeed. Watching him now help us prepare a meal by ‘fropping a pepper” with his plastic knife and his understanding and attitude towards food. The quality family time we get together in the kitchen is treasured. He sees it like playing almost, as it is all he has known and how we have amused him sometimes.
I was prompted to write this because a week ago I was in a well know franchise fast food place having not been in for over three years. I ordered coffee dare not order anything else and whilst waiting looked around. I noticed there was a childs party in and it was the average size of each person that struck me. My thoughts then went to my own family because I noticed a young boy who must have been a similar age to my son and I realised we have never taken our son to one of these food places. The children were having a ball in the colourful environment filled with laughter and joy. But it was the consumption of the type of food wrapped in the laughter and fun that suddenly made me wonder how long they would be laughing, is what they were about to eat worthy of laughter, should it be taken more seriously.
Fast food consumption is here for sure, when I was younger I remember it being pitched as a treat by some parents. But it seems now that treat has become a dangerous addiction that has health implications that are on a par with smoking. I notice how this weight affects posture and in some children, legs almost buckle under the weight. What on earth is this doing to their skeleton? Is this causing irreparable damage to the bone development? Is this fair?? I am sure medical professionals would be able to answer that. Everybody has heard that it it causes heart problems, diabetes, etc. but what is being done? should excessive consumption of fast food be acceptable?
According to the NSPCC child abuse is defined as:
“..any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm.
It commonly occurs within a relationship of trust or responsibility and is an abuse of power or a breach of trust. Abuse can happen to a child regardless of their age, gender, race or ability. Abusers can be adults (male or female) and other young people, and are usually known to and trusted by the child and family.
There are four main types of child abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. The abuser may be a family member, or they may be someone the child encounters in a residential setting or in the community, including during sports and leisure activities. An individual may abuse or neglect a child directly, or may be responsible for abuse because they fail to prevent another person harming that child.”
It clearly states that abuse is breach of trust occurring in a relationship of trust or responsibility being a parent or guardian is the ultimate in responsibility and trust. A child knows no different is this a breach of trust?? neglect is one of the four forms of abuse. So I am struggling to understand firstly how a parent can allow their child to eat fast food on a regular basis, and secondly why this comparison has never been drawn.
“..the number of overweight and obese children in the UK has increased over the past 30 years. In 2006, around one in six children aged between two and 15 were obese.”
It also continues to say that:
“When your child gets older, or becomes an adult, he or she is more likely to develop the following health problems if they are obese: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, asthma,development problems in the feet, liver disease, sleep apnoea. Obesity can also affect your child’s emotional and mental health. He or she may have low confidence or self-esteem, and being obese can also lead to eating problems, such as bulimia, and depression.”
This is surprising and the consequences of abuse and neglect have similar consequences, so what is the difference? I suppose it is down to what we consider abuse, as individuals we have to decide for ourselves. The eating of fast food is not a rare occurrence in most cases of obesity. It is fair to say it is quite frequent?
Some history on how slow we are to react to health issues. In 1492 Rodrigo de Jerez was the first European to smoke in the same year Christopher Columbus was previously given some tobacco leaves. It was some 416 years later that the sale of cigarettes in the UK to children under 16 was banned in 1908. It was 42 years later that the health warnings began when the link with smoking and cancer was established. It was 99 years after 1908 it was banned from public places, as an light ex-smoker I was surprised, but on reflection it is the right thing. Being out is a lot more pleasurable and why should others suffer and be exposed to health risks?
But here is my frustration with the hypocrisy of fast food and it’s place in society. If the consensus of the ban on smoking was on health reasons, then do we need to wait another 99 years before something significant is done??. Do we need to wait this long to know it is bad for us or do we have the information and waist lines we need? Is it necessary to have doctors tell us that it is bad for us? Have we not gained enough intelligence to recognise that our bodies are not designed for that kind of abuse? In children is this something that lies firmly at the door step of the parents? If a child suffers mental & physical abuse then does someone intervene? What about neglect, does that justify intervention? The definition of neglect is:
Verb: Fail to care for properly:
Is regularly feeding a child fast food who knows no better neglect? Is this taking care of them properly? I suppose the question is, is this affecting the child’s health and well-being? Is being overweight and causing un due strain on the heart neglecting the childs health? Is it leading to an addictive behaviour?. Research seems to say so. If a parent encourages a child to take a controlled substance is this neglect? Would someone intervene? I would hope so. Clearly UK law believes anyone below the age of 16 is not an adult, and therefore they are not allowed to vote, smoke or drink because the are a minor and in the care of an adult!!
Have the clowns with big hair and disarming old men accompanied by the people with big smiles made us think this is acceptable? Have we as adults been brain washed in to accepting this? Whatever the answer is, the question is, Is it acceptable or neglect to let a child become so overweight they buckle under weight as their heart strains to pump causing dangerous health risks?
Update 5th September 2011
McDonalds have just announced this morning that they are voluntarily joining the fight against childhood obesity by displaying the calories on a happy meal. By definition it being called a happy meal has conotations of good times and contentment and not the reality of unhealthy high fat content food. This product is clearly marketed to children and there in lies the problem. Quite often these are used at childrens’ parties held at these venues. Is there a stronger case for having an age restriction on this kind of food? Are parents that are willing to take their children to these kind of placesgoing to care about the calories?[retweet]
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