Is overfeeding kids child abuse?

Filed under: Just For Moms, Just For Dads, Places To Go, Nutrition: Health, Development/Milestones: Babies

Last month, Kristin wrote about a 400 pound child and pondered whether her parent's were guilty of abuse for letting their seven-year-old child get that heavy. The consensus among those who commented on her story was that the girl was most likely suffering from a medical condition, not abuse.

Regardless of that particular girl's condition, some doctors are calling for legislation that would prosecute parents who overfeed their children. Specifically, they want parents of obese children under the age of 12 to be charged with neglect.

Dr. Matt Capehorn, a general physician who has treated children with dietary disorders says: "My colleagues and I were concerned because we noticed a discrepancy in the way society, the medical profession and the courts treat an obese child compared with a malnourished child. There is outrage if a child is skin-and-bone – but it only happens in extreme cases with obese children."

Dr. Capehorn believes that parents should first be educated about how to improve their children's diets. If they fail to follow recommendations, he says those parents should be turned over to authorities. But the Chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, Tam Fry, says the proposed legislation is " "too sweeping and simplistic" and that many parents of obese children are trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to keep their children healthy.

I don't completely understand how a parent could be unsuccessful in limiting a young child's food intake. What do you think? Should parents who overfeed their children be prosecuted?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.