Monday, January 29, 2007

British "social workers" put fat children on "abused" list

The Unhinged Kingdom devises a new madness

Social workers are placing obese children on the child protection register alongside victims thought to be at risk of sexual or physical abuse. In extreme cases children have been placed in foster care because their parents have contributed to the health problems of their offspring by failing to respond to medical advice. The intervention of social services in what was previously regarded as a private matter is likely to raise concerns about the emergence of the "fat police".

Some doctors even advocate taking legal action against parents for illtreating their children by feeding them so much that they develop health problems. Dr Russell Viner, a consultant paediatrician at Great Ormond Street and University College London hospitals, said: "In my practice, I can think of about 10 or 15 cases in which child protection action has been taken because of obesity. We now constantly get letters from social workers about child protection due to childhood obesity."

Viner points out that children are not placed on the child protection register simply for being obese but only if parents fail to act on advice and take steps to help their children lose weight. "Obesity in itself is not a child protection concern," he said. "When parents fail to act in their child's best interests with regard to their weight - for example, if they are enrolled on a behavioural treatment session and only get to two out of 10 sessions or if they miss medical appointments - then the obesity becomes a child protection concern."

Dr Alyson Hall, consultant child psychiatrist at the Emmanuel Miller Centre for Families and Children in east London, said that in some cases children were put into foster care to ensure their safety. "I have known instances where local authorities have had to consider placement outside the family. It has been voluntary so far, and has not gone to care proceedings, but that could happen," she said. "These are children suffering from sleep apnoea and serious health complications from diabetes. Initially, social workers try to help the parents but, in some cases, the parents are the problem."

Earlier this month two brothers were convicted of causing unnecessary suffering by letting their dog become obese. The labrador, Rusty, was 11 stone, more than double the weight he should have been, and could hardly stand. "We wonder whether the same charge should be applicable to the parents of dangerously obese children," said Dr Tom Solomon, a neurologist at Royal Liverpool University hospital. "I think it should be considered. It depends on the parents' attitude. If the parents say there is nothing they can do because their child only likes to eat chips and biscuits then perhaps it might be worth the state intervening. "The state intervenes with schooling. Parents who do not send their children to school are prosecuted eventually. To be badly educated is not dangerous but we are making our children diabetic, and even killing our children by our feeding habits."

Tam Fry, chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, a charity that fights childhood obesity, agreed. "It should be a punishable offence," he said. "Very obese children are taking up NHS resources that should be used for legitimate purposes. Parents have got to be held accountable for overfeeding their children or letting their children become fat without taking action."

Other health workers, however, argue that parents should not be punished because social circumstances sometimes prevent them from ensuring their children follow a healthy diet. Last week the government's strategy for tackling childhood obesity was criticised as "confused" and "dithering" by the Commons public accounts committee. MPs warned that ministers are set to miss their target to halt the rise in childhood obesity by 2010. The number of children aged under 11 who are obese leapt from 9.9% in 1995 to 13.4% in 2004


The Internet is making kids fat?

The Internet is making kids fat, and it's time the government did something. That was the impression "American Morning" gave its January 25 audience with a report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta that neglected to give parents tips for supervising their children's Internet usage, while lamenting a lack of government regulation. Not only are more American children than ever overweight, "Now there's evidence of hidden messages that could be adding to America's weight problem," anchor Soledad O'Brien teased as she introduced Gupta's story on kid-friendly online games at food and candy Web sites.

CNN's in-house doctor used his "Fit Nation" story to hype a 6-month-old study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. "As we look at the problem of childhood obesity, and as we look at the possible role of food marketing . we need to be sure we're looking at online food marketing to kids," insisted Kaiser's Vicky Rideout, pointing to her group's July 19, 2006, study that suggests candy and cereal Web sites featuring online games aggravate the nation's "obesity epidemic" among children.

Rideout's prescription for the outbreak of pudgy kids hunched over the keyboard seemed to point to government regulation. "The Internet is potentially way more powerful than television advertising ever dreamed of being, but it's also way more challenging in terms of any kind of oversight," Rideout added.

Of course, computers and cable modems have off buttons and software exists for parents to block unwanted Web sites. And of course most young children rely on their parents for food shopping or allowance money they might use to buy snacks. Yet rather than giving parents practical advice to get their kids more physically active and less reliant on Internet games, Gupta lamented a lack of government regulation of the Internet. "Where television ads are regulated in length, Internet ads for now are only regulated voluntarily," Gupta noted, before tossing in a 6-second sound bite from industry spokesman Daniel Jaffe. "I believe that if you really did look at these sites, you would find quite a number of foods that are healthy," said Jaffe of the Association of National Advertisers.

Back in the New York studio, O'Brien told viewers the government might be riding in to help after all. "The Federal Trade Commission is also studying junk food ads to see how manufacturers are marketing to children," the CNN host told her breakfast-hour audience.

The Business & Media Institute has reported on the media's recurring hype about food advertising to children. For example, ABC's Lisa Stark picked up on the Kaiser study with her July 26, 2006, "World News Tonight" story, and on the December 7, 2005, "Early Show," Dr. Emily Senay compared cartoon characters that hawk cereals and candy to one that was an icon for tobacco. "Parents certainly have a role to play, here, but this is very powerful stuff," CBS's medical correspondent lamented of Internet advertising, "it's not unlike, for example Joe Camel."



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.

The use of extreme quintiles (fifths) to examine effects is in fact so common as to be almost universal but suggests to the experienced observer that the differences between the mean scores of the experimental and control groups were not statistically significant -- thus making the article concerned little more than an exercise in deception


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