This story broke early yesterday morning, and I’m sure it’s going to raise a few questions and some sound debate, not to mention a healthy helping of finger-pointing and trying to find ways that everyone and their dog screwed up.
The story, as reported by CBS News HERE, outlines how an 8-year-old child weighing 218 pounds (99.1 kilograms) was taken into protective custody by the state of Ohio and placed into temporary foster care due to the health risks associated with obesity.
Considering the fact that the “average” 8-year-old is 45 inches tall (1.14 meters fr the metric lovers out there), and the average weight is a paltry 57.2 pounds (26 kilograms), the average child BMI comes out to 20.0. This child, assuming the same height, clocks in at a BMI of 76.2, effectively placing him into his own category of obesity so far off the charts. It should be noted that as described HERE a BMI of 20 puts the “average” 8-year-old in the 95th percentile of weight to height, a BMI of 76.2 would place this guy in the 99.9th percentile.
I wrote a post back in the summer about the concept presented in literature of removing obese children from their environments, but I think this is probably the first time it’s actually happened.
While I’m sure there will be a lot of people who will jump on the parents for not giving their children the best chance of succeeding by providing them with the best dietary components possible, I have to say this may not have been the right choice. We saw how school cafeterias are now able to claim pizza as a vegetable due to the use of tomato paste (which is actually a fruit). We also see the gradual asphyxiation of physical education programs in elementary schools due to a reliance on the “Three R’s,” (it should be noted that only one of which actually starts with “R”).An average grocery store has a larger bread department than a produce section, and the combined area of the chips, crackers, cookies and ice cream (not even including the bakery) is larger by floor space as well. We’ve even gone so far as to install moving sidewalks, escalators for a 5-stair run, and every way possible to reduce our level of physical output in our daily lives.
So will the state’s defense of its actions of removing the child from the environment actually hold up if the environment is all around them? In order to adequately remove them from their “damaging environment” we would actually have to place them into a physical academy or sports-focused school, in the homes of organic vegans with a home gym in their basement and both parents (not divorced or common law, because that’s apparently icky to some) who have advanced degrees in nutrition and kinesiology, and ensure that all of their friends were actively involved in recreational activities that didn’t involve watching television, sitting in front of the computer, playing video games or eating.
In other words, they would have to move him to France.
What do you think the odds are that this will act as a public wake-up call that something is terribly wrong with our society as a whole versus trying to blame one individual (the mother and possibly father) who are deemed ultimately responsible? Say the parents send their child to school to get a hot breakfast that’s provided by the school board, then the child gets to have some vegetizza for lunch, again provided by the school district, only to come home to a house where both parents or the single mom has to work late to afford rent and what groceries they have, leaving the child to get what they want for dinner, which may consist of anything other than what would be considered a healthy and nutritious diet. The kid doesn’t have access to sports, and can’t play outside because of the potential of being beaten up by a crackhead looking to rob him of anything that could be sold for money.
Personally, I think this was an overreaction of the state. Sure, the child is in a precarious position with his health, and if he continues down his current path he’ll probably wind up dead before 30 weighing in at well over 500 pounds, if he makes it there. But to say that the family was the sole influence to his weight gain may have been a bit presumptuous. Could they have tried to switch schools, provide financial assistance for dietician counseling, or some other form of intervention that wouldn’t separate the child from his parents?
What are your thoughts about this? Are the parents solely to blame or is this the jumping-off point of a much bigger problem? Let’s get a discussion going in the comments section.