Childhood Obesity is Child Abuse

A quick Google search on the definition of Child Abuse basically boils down to this:

Child abuse is any intentional act or omission that causes harm or potential harm to a child by his/her caregiver(s).

Greasy Pizza

Even brief research will show:

  • consuming processed foods/beverages high in salt, sugar, and/or fat,
  • overeating, and
  • long periods of inactivity

cause both short-term and long-term harm to a child’s health, quality of life, and life expectancy if practiced consistently or frequently.

Children assume, and they should, that parents and/or caregivers act in their best interests.

If all a child has ever eaten is processed food then why would they question its nutritional quality or effects on health?  Sure school programs reach many kids but at the end of the day you eat what’s provided and you trust your parents above all else.  Are parents to blame?

Childhood obesity

Photo credit: / / Public Domain Mark 1.0

Processed food tastes good.  Manufacturers know this because they’ve spent years creating the food equivalent to crack cocaine.

Do we blame the manufacturers?  If we don’t buy it, they won’t make it.  While this statement is true, shouldn’t manufactures be held to some sort of nutritional standard?

Do we blame consumers of these products?  Many parents say they can’t afford to buy healthy food.  Fast food restaurants and big box department stores like Wal-Mart offer processed foods for incredibly low prices.  Frustrated parents of picky eaters convince themselves junk food is better than no food.

Becoming obese, particularly morbidly obese, is the direct result of far too many calories consumed and far too few calories burned.

Where are these kids getting all these calories?  

Courtesy of Alberta Health

Courtesy of Alberta Health

Why are these kids so inactive?

If a child leads a sedentary lifestyle they grow up thinking this is normal.

School programs and public service announcements do their best to warn of the dangers of inactivity.  The impact of that information is lost if those directly responsible for the child aren’t preaching the same message or ensuring an active lifestyle.

What if parents can’t afford to enroll the child in activities? Organized sports and other activities can be very expensive.  Enrollment fees, equipment costs, and travel expenses can really add up.  Many communities have programs to assist with these costs, but what happens if you don’t live in one of these communities?

What if the parents are rarely home because they are too busy earning barely enough money to make ends meet?  Even if the job does pay well, some parents work such long or irregular hours the children are left to fend for themselves.  It can be very difficult to choose activity over video games and this choice is even more difficult if the child lives in an unsafe neighborhood.

What if the parents were raised on too many calories and not enough activity?  The obesity epidemic began far enough back that we are certainly seeing 2nd generation and even 3rd generation obese parents raising obese children who will most likely perpetuate the cycle.

Photo credit: CarbonNYC / / CC BY

Photo credit: CarbonNYC / / CC BY

Childhood obesity is child abuse.  That is a very strong statement.  What do you think?


The Beginning
About James Hudyma

Dad. Husband. Teacher. Canadian. Guitar Picker. Songwriter.

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  1. Strong statement? Yes. True statement? Yes.
    Working with students of “under resourced” families, my heart breaks when I see that their nutritional needs are neglected, yet their parents are spending money on cigarettes, luxury vehicles and/or vehicle accessories, jewelry, etc.
    If I may paint a broad stroke here, people will always find a way to get the things that are important to them. Unfortunately, a healthy lifestyle is often not that important.
    Exercise is free. It’s never cost me a dime to run, do push-ups, jumping jacks, sit-ups, or even dance. Even if someone is not making smart food choices, a child’s metabolism is racing and ready for movement. Obesity is often a symptom of a lack of encouragement from parents. Encouragement to make wise food choices and maybe more importantly to engage in physical activity.
    Great questions for reflection, James.

  2. Very strong statement. However, I think the points that you touch on (time, resources, family history) are too hard to ignore. Yes, exercise is free, but we as parents are being asked to do more with less time. I think there is a much bigger issue that needs to be addressed, and that is how do we stop this process of filling up our schedules. We are putting all of our time into the wrong things, and not enough in our families. We as a society need to prioritize.

This is what I think...