A Fine for Obese Kids — Say What?!

mom with child on scale

From this week’s Ridiculously Offensive Parenting Rules file comes a goodie that almost made me spit out my coffee. Parents might actually be fined for having obese children.

Nope, you aren’t seeing things. A proposed bill in Puerto Rico would make moms and dads of obese kids pay up to $800 unless those children lost weight.

Okay. My mind is so blown, I don’t even know where to begin with this one. In fact, I agree with pediatrician Dr. Laura Popper, who was interviewed about this terrible idea by CBS New York.

“It’s about the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long time,” she told the station. “There’s no way that kind of punishment works.”

Here are the basics: Teachers would be on the lookout for kids at risk for obesity, according to Senator Gilberto Rodriguez. But then government health officials would track the family down and get to the bottom of the problem, determining whether the obesity was the result of poor diet and nutrition, genetics, a medical condition or something else. They’d work with the parents to devise a good game plan for turning the situation around.

All that sounds great until you get to the part where the mom and dad could be fined between $500 and $800 if their child doesn’t shed pounds in six months to a year. Ouch!

The intentions behind the plan are noble enough — to help parents make healthier choices for their kids and to catch a potential obesity case early enough to do something about it. But getting parents to pay up if their children don’t lose weight is where they completely lose me — and lose, period.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has apparently come out against the measure, calling it unfair. Unfair? And how! What if the weight problems are a result of a health condition or DNA? Parents still need to fork over a serious amount of cash then, too? Please.

Getting the government involved to that extent and then punishing parents by fining them is definitely not the way to tackle Puerto Rico’s obesity epidemic (about 28 percent of the population is considered obese compared with 18 percent of Americans living stateside). Educate people, yes, but don’t make them hand over their hard-earned money for something as complicated as having a severely overweight child!

Hopefully someone will see the light on that beautiful, tropical island and shut this thing down before it goes any further.  We owe it to the kids at risk of being affected and their parents.

Do you agree with this plan? Has your family ever had an issue with obesity?