Government Nanny

Should parents of an obese child be accused of negligence?

Some in medical circles believe they should. In the news are “top experts” who now believe that obese children should be taken away from their parents in order to “protect them.”

These experts believe obese children should be placed in foster care. Yes, the likelihood of developing diabetes is greater for obese kids. So are most diseases, including cancer. This is because overweight kids are eating all the wrong foods. In an attempt to protect kids from disease, the authors of this study are willing to violate parents’ rights.

The problem, obviously, begins with what the parents purchase and eat themselves. Obesity has risen radically in the last 20 years. An estimated 17 percent of children in the U.S. are considered to be obese. But the good intentions of the researchers are misguided.

Artwork by 8-year-old Nicole.

The family’s eating habits are what needs to change. Not the location of their kids. People lie to themselves about the nutrition in the food they are eating. Most people wrongly believe the food they are eating is somewhat healthful. Or they occasionally eat junk food. They never define “occasionally”, even to themselves…is it once a day, once a week, or once a month?

Finger Pointing
Let’s put the blame where it really belongs. The FDA needs to address the issue of false claims on processed food products stating that they’re healthy, just because artificial vitamins have been added or a food once was whole. After all, High Fructose Corn Sweetener came from a whole grain, but that doesn’t make it healthful.

Can a family change their eating habits? Of course! It takes determination and a period of adjustment. The first step is to get rid of all processed and junk foods. Yep. Just rip off the Band-Aid. Then learn how to cook from scratch. Beans you cook yourself are a fraction of the cost of canned beans. And they taste sooo much better! Prepare salads with homemade dressings. Snack on fruit. Your food budget won’t change much when you figure in the high cost of junk and processed foods.

Government Funded Food
The government shouldn’t be funding poor eating habits either. For the most part, school lunches are atrocious. That’s another blog: School Choices. If you want your child to eat a healthy lunch at school…pack it yourself.

I believe it’s the right and responsible thing to help families in need. During the last couple of years, the dramatic increase in unemployment has made it necessary for many middle class families to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). Today, 14 percent of Americans are on food stamps (that’s 40 million people).

Some want the government to intrude into families with obese kids. What about families receiving government dollars for food? Now, here’s where it would be appropriate to tell people what they can purchase with public funds. Instead of pulling kids from their families, perhaps we should look at what food is purchased with our tax dollars. This is one area that it’s entirely reasonable for government intrusion.

There are already a few restrictions in place as to what can be purchased with government grocery money. You can’t purchase cigarettes and liquor. You can’t purchase any paper or cleaning products. You can’t buy personal hygiene products or vitamins. It’s not unreasonable that food stamps should only purchase whole foods.

No Junk Foods
If I were making the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program rules, food stamps could only be used for whole food. That’s it. It’s not complicated at all. This plan wouldn’t restrict buying junk foods, only the use of government dollars (our money) for unhealthy foods. People would have to find the time to learn how to cook and your tax dollars wouldn’t be funding obesity.

No chips, soda pop (any colored kid drinks), cookies, ice cream, or box mixes could be purchased with food stamps. Only fresh produce and staples like whole grain flour, nut butters, pasta and dried beans and legumes. I wouldn’t allow bottled water either. Most bottled water isn’t any different from your tap water. Meat would be on the food stamp list, but no meat products with nitrates. Expensive hot dogs and lunch meat are out. (In fact, some doctors want a warning label on hot dogs. They say hot dogs are as dangerous to health as cigarettes.) Dairy: milk, eggs and cheese would be on the approved list.

Under my proposed plan, at least the families on food stamps would be purchasing nutritious food with taxpayers’ money. This plan would by default also cut down on the need for government health care assistance. So simple, it’s scary.

For a synopsis of Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater, Click Here.

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