A physician recently suggested that extremely overweight children should be placed under foster care because such obesity is a form of child abuse. College students have strong opinions about the physician’s suggestion.
Rodney feels there are less drastic steps that can be taken to remedy the situation. A report estimates that while anti-smoking campaigns increase the longevity of a typical 18-year-old by 0.31 years, obesity shortens it by 1.02 years. Rodney takes heart from these figures and believes that education, activity and healthy food can dramatically reduce the obesity level. For many people the need for a meal at a low cost outweighs the desire for a healthy meal. A good way to solve this dilemma would be to change the way farm subsidies currently function in the U.S. From 1995 to 2004, nearly three-quarters of more than $51 billion worth of subsidies went to producers of sugar, oil, meat, dairy, alcohol and feed crops used for cattle, while less that half of 1 percent went to subsidize fruit and vegetable production. High-fat, high cholesterol foods subsidized by the farm bill find their way into the national school lunch program, contributing to obesity. By shifting the focus of farm subsidies to healthier staples, the government can help our kids fight off obesity. Rodney is in favor a cultural shift toward healthy food and away from fast food.
Sarah is opposed to children being taken away from parents for extreme obesity. She believes that a little education for both parents and children can help prevent choices that lead to diabetes, hypertension and other health problems. Fitness and nutrition need to be taught in schools even more than sex education to reduce the problem of obesity. Foster care will only “sweep the issue under the rug.”
Amanda strongly disagrees with Dr. Ludwig’s proposition. The doctor’s concern is sincere but she feels that placing children under foster care for obesity will hurt more than it will help. Taking children away from parents can cause severe psychological trauma. “I’ve had a few friends from elementary school who were sent off to boarding schools and foster homes. All of them now are worse off than before. They are either on drugs or in jail.” Instead, Amanda feels that mandatory counseling for obese children is a far better prescription.
Winnie is also opposed to the foster care solution. It is downright cruel. Parents are the key. However, due to economic necessity, often both parents have to work and so they end up neglecting their children. They do not take the time to provide them nourishing food and take easy way out by feeding them junk, fatty food. Parents should set aside time to cook healthy food for their children. They should also not buy packaged and junk food from grocery stores. If there is no junk food available at home, children will be forced to eat healthier foods. They should wean them away from potato chips, soda and cookies as much as possible. Daily intake of calories should never exceed 2000, and there should be plenty of physical activities.
Henry sees the potential involvement of Child Protective Services as ominous. While the government has the right to take away a child from parents if there is clear evidence that the child’s life or heath is endangered, there is a fine line here. Obesity can be a genetic disorder and can also be caused by diseases. Unless all factors are considered, the rights of families maybe violated if families lose their children to foster homes because of extreme obesity.
Nguyen feels that obesity will cease to be a problem if parents set their priorities right. Parents always want to see smiles on their children’s faces. Most parents try to do this by giving their children whatever food they want, and it is often fattening foods. However, even if kids become overweight, putting them under foster care will be tragic. A child will feel abandoned and may give up on life. Besides, it’s not as if overweight children do not shape up as they grow up. Many do and we shouldn’t be judgmental about them and become too alarmist regarding obesity.
By making organic and healthy food more affordable, the government can help reduce extreme obesity among children. This is how Joseph feels. Only the rich can afford healthy food. The poor can only afford the relatively cheap fast food and end up paying the high price in the long run. How is it, asks Joseph, that you can get a whole meal at McDonald’s for three dollars but it costs twice as much to buy a few apples or a fresh head of broccoli?
Julien has cousins who settled in France. She sees a distinct difference in the cultures of the two countries. Here in America, children often sit in front of the TV for hours, eating snacks and drinking soda. It is very individualistic. No one has time for anyone else. In France, she sees a more family and community-based culture. The lives of children revolve around their families. As a consequence, obesity is not a problem in France, at least not as much as it is here. In America, the foster care system is bankrupt. A study has shown that foster children are 10 times more likely to be abused than children in their homes. The solution to obesity, as Julien sees it, is to bring about a change in the way we think. Get away from a materialistic life and teach our children that “less is more.”