Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stripping the “fat” from rights

Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan wants doctors to track the body mass index (BMI) of children through a database that currently tracks immunizations and then to report the collected data to the state. (BMI is the ratio between a person’s weight and the square of his height; it is viewed as an indication of whether that person’s weight is healthy.)

Confusion exists on whether the reporting is required: Snyder calls it “voluntary,” but one of his spokeswomen told the Associated Press that BMI monitoring will become “part of every child’s medical care” in Michigan. So far, all sources agree that the reporting will be anonymous; it will not identify the children. Some parents and privacy advocates are not reassured, however. Too many government programs have promised anonymity but have later been used to take action against specific people.

What action could the state take? “Failure to thrive” is the latest emerging category of child abuse or neglect. Over recent years, child-protective services have started to remove extremely obese children from homes, even loving ones, and to place them in foster care. In less-extreme cases, social workers mandate diets and exercise routines with the implicit (or explicit) threat of criminal charges and loss of custody hanging over parents who do not comply.

As happens with many controversial policies, the state kidnapping of obese children began with extreme cases that elicited little public objection. A headline in the Albany, New York, Examiner (July 21, 2009) read, “Mother loses custody & is charged with criminal neglect for allowing son to become morbidly obese.” The news item opened:
Jerri Gray, a 49 year old mother ... was arrested in June on a criminal neglect charge because her son weighed 555 pounds by the time he was fourteen years old. Her son was taken away from her and put into foster care.... What has happened to Jerri Gray is rare but not new. In 2007 New York State charged the parents of a young adolescent named Brittany T. with neglect for allowing her to reach the weight of 261 pounds, although Brittany’s parents were charged with a misdemeanor, while Jerri Gray has been charged with felonies that could result in significant prison time.... [The] court required Brittany’s parents to purchase a gym membership and take her there several times a week. The court also ordered nutritional counseling and cooking classes for the family.

At least three factors are causing government to extend its reach ever further into kitchens and across dinner tables. First, there has been a general expansion and acceptance of the Nanny State through which the government assumes the role of a parent with willful, ignorant children; “unhealthy” food is the new nicotine in terms of its current focus. Second, with Barack Obama’s health-care bill, a person’s health problems cease to be a personal matter and, instead, become a strain on a scarce public resource (medical care) and a drain on the public purse; in other words, your obesity becomes my problem. The third is the invocation of a powerful political tactic — the need to protect children against abuse.

Obesity as child abuse hops the big pond

As with many politically correct trends, the equating of obesity with child abuse seems to have taken root first in the UK. In his article “The onward march of the Obesity Orwellians,” Rob Lyons, the author of Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder explained:
In 2004, the parents of a nine-year-old girl in Derbyshire were threatened with having her removed due to her weight. In 2007, Newcastle social services made a similar threat in relation to an eight-year-old boy, Connor McCreaddie. In 2008, UK council bosses declared that very fat children should be monitored and taken away from their parents if necessary. It should be blindingly obvious to medics and social workers that children simply cannot become as fat as these children without some significant genetic predisposition towards piling on the pounds. The drastic act of taking a child from his or her parents should only ever happen when there is clear evidence of serious neglect or abuse. Yet in the cases of many of these fat children, there is little or no evidence of any such neglect or abuse. Instead, obesity itself is taken to be sufficient basis for extreme state action.

In the UK, the slippery slope began with the government-sponsored weighing of children and with a campaign to improve their eating habits. Then doctors and public agencies provided alarming statistics on childhood obesity that created widespread panic. Then officials blamed parents for child abuse or neglect; public-health spokesman David Rogers declared that “parents who allow their children to eat too much could be as guilty of neglect as those who did not feed their children at all.” The “solution” of massive government intervention into the home was not far behind. On September 5, 2011, a headline in the UK Daily Mail proclaimed, “Parents of seven told: Your children are too fat, so you will never see them again.” The news item explained,
Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.

In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the “unbearable” likelihood of never seeing them again.

Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be “fostered without contact” or adopted.

Either way, the family’s only hope of being reunited will be if the children attempt to track down their parents when they become adults.

In a bitter irony, the children came to the attention of social workers because their parents asked for assistance with an unrelated problem.

The war on obesity and “unhealthy” food

The Michigan Care Improvement Registry of children’s BMI being created by Governor Snyder is a small aspect of America’s raging War on Childhood Obesity and on “unhealthy” food. Declared most loudly by Michele Obama, the war is being pushed forward by the considerable muscle of her husband. For example, as Karen De Coster colorfully explained (September 18), “Unknown to many, Benito Obamalini’s budget included a 5-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending, except that the FDA obtained a $50M boost, and that is just the beginning for the fed’s stepped-up enforcement of its Food Tyranny Act.”

On health grounds, the government is ratcheting up restriction and regulation of the foodstuffs people are permitted to eat. Limit salt. No trans fats. Avoid fast food. No sodas or raw milk! Put calorie counts on every menu. Butter is bad. No candy machines in public schools.

Along with weighing children, there is an aggressive campaign to impose “healthy” eating habits. Entire bureaucracies are being created around the idea of feeding school children vegetables and snatching away their sodas. A recent commentary in WorldNetDaily listed a mere handful of the new federal “guidelines” for public-school cafeterias that will be piled onto old ones this year: “Local School Wellness Policy Implementation, Review of Local Policies on Meal Charges and Provision of Alternate Meals, Procurement and Processing of Food Service Products and Commodities, Professional Standards for School Food Service, etc.”

Despite those efforts, or because of them, a flood of statistics have been announcing a near-panic scenario. TV broadcasters warn that two million children in America are obese. In a 2009 report on California, more than 38 percent of children in some counties are classified as “obese” or “overweight,” the percentages falling into each category being roughly equal. Other reports put states such as Mississippi as high as 44.4 percent. Meanwhile the Child Welfare League of America stated, “Today [2008], according to researchers, almost 66% of adults and 14% to 19% of children and adolescents are considered overweight; approximately 33% of adults and 11% of children are obese.”

The numbers seem high, perhaps because the term “obesity” has been redefined in past years to include a far larger population. The data serve a political function. Just as unemployment and inflation data are calculated in innovative ways to minimize social problems that the government has largely caused, so, too, figures on other problems may be exaggerated in order to allow government to rush in as “the cure.”

More here

Woman unwittingly destroys her liver and dies from a paracetamol (acetaminophen) overdose

This is widely recommended as a "safe" painkiller but it is not. There have been many incidents like the one below. Aspirin is out of favour these days but it is much less likely to be fatal. Many medications contain paracetamol so if you are taking several medications you can very easily exceed the safe dose

A young mother died after overdosing on Lemsip and paracetamol to treat a cold, an inquest has heard. Tragic Donna Bishop, 25, downed a daily cocktail of over-the-counter medication when she fell ill two weeks before Christmas last year.

The pretty mum-of-one was diagnosed with a chest infection by her GP on New Year’s Eve, But she continued to self-medicate and swallowed pills washed down with hot Lemsip drinks and cough medicine. Her health rapidly deteriorated and she died in hospital on January 4 from liver failure caused by a paracetamol overdose.

The inquest at Worcestershire Coroner’s Court in Stourport-on-Severn heard how Donna had travelled to Scotland before Christmas to visit her friend Siobhan Dunn.

She had been suffering from a cold for two weeks before her death and Miss Dunn said Donna was taking ‘high’ amounts of over-the-counter drugs and she had been sick several times. This would lead her to take more medication in the belief she needed a top-up dose after vomiting.

After travelling back to her home in Warndon Villages, Worcester, on December 31 she saw her GP who prescribed antibiotics.

On January 2 she went to Worcestershire Royal Hospital complaining of mouth ulcers and having difficulty in swallowing. A doctor prescribed co-codamol and a throat spray but the next day her sister Kerrie Bishop visited her and found her forgetful, with a yellow jaundiced complexion and unsteady on her feet.

At 2.30am on January 4, she was admitted to hospital and given a bed on the gynaecological ward. Staff said she was ‘fidgety’ and suffering hallucinations.

According to nurse practitioner Andrew Eggleton, Donna denied taking paracetamol but she died later that day. A pathologist report concluded her death was due to liver failure caused by a paracetamol overdose.


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