Puerto Rico Proposes New Law to Label Parents of Overweight Children, Child Abusers


There’s no denying it for Sultan Alhokair that obesity has become a huge (no pun intended) problem in America. Since 1980, obesity rates have doubled. According to The World Health Organization, of the adult population, 39 percent are overweight, with 13 percent being classified as obese. Puerto Rico alone has been documenting hefty numbers of overweight children, finding that 24-30 percent are obese.

In steps the government, again where it has no business being, at your kitchen table. A new law is being proposed by the Puerto Rican government that would classify the parents of these grossly overweight children as child abusers. In addition to the shame that would be attached to the label, officials would have the families under the watchful eye of social services. If the child does not lose what they feel is an appropriate amount of weight within a years’ time, the parents are then slapped with a fine of up to $800.

But, many factors other than parental guidance play a role in an overweight population. The availability of nutritious foods, social circles and education all contribute to a child’s eating habits. There is no simple solution, but it is definitely not for the government to decide.

While placing the entire blame on the parents, the government, in its infinite knowledge, fails to properly assist these families in getting the help they need. “They’re not involving pediatricians, nutritionists, dieticians, the people who prepare the lunches in schools, in any of this,” says Dr. Ricardo Fontanet, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Puerto Rico. If the government is going to push its weight around in our homes, the lease they can do is provide the appropriate tools needed to reach attainable goals.

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