Diverging Opinions on Parental Culpability

Childhood Obesity News has mentioned April Herndon, Ph.D., a proponent of the “Health at Every Size” philosophy. In her book, Fat Blame: How the War on Obesity Victimizes Women and Children, she says that one of the major damages caused by the “war” is the removal of children from their homes by social service bureaucracies.

Therapist Mary Jo Rapini wrote about a case where she was consulted as an expert. An 8-year-old Ohio boy weighed 218 pounds and needed to use a breathing machine at night because of his sleep apnea. Agents of the state’s child protective service worked with the mother for a year but saw no improvement. The bureaucracy said the mother was “unable to follow through with appropriate measures prescribed for the boy in order to lose weight.”

The counter-narrative was that the mother worked full-time and attended school, leaving an opening for friends and family to let the child eat what he should not. Unimpressed, the authorities removed him from home and put him in foster care.

Rapini sees this whole idea as absurd and dangerous, and also impractical. Already there are not enough foster homes, and certainly not of the kind where the caregivers have special expertise enough to handle this kind of problem. She wrote,

Taking a child away from the family he knows and loves borders on cruelty. Removal of a child from his/her home should only be done as a last resort to protect that child from imminent harm (the child in this case had no other medical conditions except for sleep apnea). Many times, removing a child from their home is experienced so intensely by the child that they would resort to food even more as the only thing they could control. Depression, anxiety, and a heightened loss of self-esteem may be the result.

Anyone who has studied the foster care system knows that these are not the worst-case results. The nation is replete with runaway kids, who found foster care so unacceptable that the streets are a welcome relief. There are even suicides.

On the other side

British TV personality Katie Hopkins engaged in a bizarre publicity stunt by purposely gaining “almost four stone” or nearly 56 pounds, which was half again her original body weight. This was in aid of making a documentary meant to prove that losing weight is not that difficult and anyone should be able to do it — although she did end up 11 pounds heavier than she started.

Hopkins had kicked-started the publicity circus by stating that parents of obese children ought to be reported to social services and prosecuted. She also aired her opinions that fat people are lazy and unemployable. In a Christmas Eve interview, she said,

If I see the parents of fat children, I have no inhibitions about pointing them, telling them, looking them in the eye and saying: ‘You’ve got a fat kid, it is your fault, you are miss-treating your child, this is child cruelty.’

While deliberately gaining weight for the documentary, she also cried for the camera and wailed, “This is a stupid project. I hate fat people for making me do this.” Yikes! For anyone who wants to know exactly how stupid the project was, in how many different ways, we recommend “Katie Hopkins; My Fat Story” by the eminent Dr. Zoe Harcombe.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “WSU professor’s ‘Fat Blame’ book challenges war on obesity,” WinonaDailyNews.com, 04/03/14
Source: “How Obese is Obese Enough to Take a Child from Their Home?,” Chron.com, 12/09/11
Source: “Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: ‘Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty’,” Independent.co.uk, 12/25/14
Photo credit: Phuketian.S on Visualhunt/CC BY-ND

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Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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