Monday, June 04, 2007

Yet another editorial

As usual, here at work I became enraged over scrolling through the news and was prompted to write an editorial for the medical newspaper I edit. This time, I became enraged over the New Jersey health department considering including warnings whether a child is obese in their report card. So dear Invisible Friends, please comment away. I'd love to hear what you think.

Still annoyed,

The Blonde Duck


Should the government tell your kid he’s fat?


When I first read about New Jersey ‘s health department creating a office of health and nutrition to battle obesity in children, I thought it was a good thing. As I read about their goals to provide education and instill healthy habits and knowledge of normal portion sizes in children, I was thrilled. When I saw plans to promote exercise, provide fruits and veggies to both women and children, and breast feeding, I was ecstatic.

Then I saw something less cheerful and PR-friendly. The article distributed by the Associated Press states that Dr. Fred Jacobs, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Senior services, is considering sending out report cards informing parents their children have a weight problem. This is after Dr. Jacobs reportedly stated: “I want to do (reduce portion sizes) without creating a further stigma on individual people,” Jacobs said. “It’s bad enough when you’re fat that people think less of you. I don’t want the government piling on.”

Hold on. Excuse me, isn’t sending out a report card telling parents their kid is fat just as bad? I’m sure they’d phrase it in non-committal language such as, “Due to our health guide recommendations, we believe you might possibly want to look into the theory that your child might be overweight.” Still, who is the government to tell parents their child is fat? If their child is fat, don’t you think the parents know it? Sure, they may be in denial and call their child “big-boned” or claim he hasn’t grown out of his baby fat, but that’s not the government’s decision. That is between the parent, the doctor and the child.

The problem isn’t in the kindly state government’s concern about obese children and parent’s lack of nutritional knowledge—it’s about the level of involvement. When do we as parents and adults step up and say, “This is my fault, not the government’s fault.” Instead, we as people naturally blame everything else that could possibly be the cause of a rapidly growing obese nation. We accuse school luncheon programs of being fattening and full of sodium, remove vending machines and pizza sponsors meant for a treat and still stop at Wendy’s on the way home after work. It’s the fast food people’s fault, it’s Keebler’s fault for making cookies, it’s Krispy Kreme’s fault for making donuts.

Get over it. It’s your fault. The government has no responsibility to keep you from making yourself or your kid fat. The government has a responsibility to provide schools (though not exceptional schools), a public transportation system (again, not necessarily good) and adequate water and city facilities. They have the responsibility to provide that because WE as a country of individuals decided that over 200 years ago.

The irresponsibility and blame-placing people have developed is terrifying because it opens a Pandora’s box of laws that will lock down our free will as a democracy. Texans flipped out when Rick Perry tried to pass a bill forcing young girls to get cervical cancer vaccines because it overrode a parent’s decision to decide whether or not their child should get it. He claimed he was trying to save their lives, they worried he was condoning pre-marital sex in teens. The overwhelming fact is it was voted down because it negated the parents’ right to choose.

Even if this decision might take place in New Jersey, the point is if it happens in one place, it could happen in another. It is up to us as individuals to step up and admit to our faults. It is our fault we’re fat; it’s our fault our kids are fat. And we don’t need the government or anyone not in a white coat with a stethoscope to tell us that. Because once the government can tell us we’re fat and we need to lose weight, what else can they tell us to do?

4 comments:

Mom said...

very well done

Mama K said...

Don't even get me started!! We are not our brother's (in this case our children's) keepers. In 20 years of teaching, I've seen more and more responsibilty for the well being of the whole child being placed upon the teachers in the classroom. Presently, much too much responsibility is being shuttled onto the teachers for rearing the children in their classes. We are educators, not parents to all. Parents MUST take responsibilty for their own actions as well as their children's. It is not always the other guy's fault. If children are raised to put the blame for their actions somewhere else, the cycle will continue throughout their entire lives of "waiting for someone else" to fix it! This does not bode well for rearing strong responsible productive adults.

The Blonde Duck said...

Very well said.

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