I was listening to the BBC on my local NPR station a few weeks ago when I heard something that got me hopping mad. This happens sometimes. I usually end up writing an angry letter, but now that I have a blog, I can write a post AND an angry letter.
I really try not to wax philosophical about things I know nothing about. But the problem is that I know nothing about a lot of things. And the things I do know, I can usually see both sides of the argument, which is really annoying when you’re trying to be opinionated about something.
Anyway, they were discussing childhood obesity in Great Britain. See, this isn’t even my country. But, it could be. It seems that the fat level of British children is reaching epidemic proportions (sounds vaguely familiar). Several experts have suggested that parents of overweight kids are negligent, even abusive, and that the state should be allowed, if it feels like it, to remove the child from the parents’ care.
Not to trivialize an important issue, but obesity has many contributing factors. Of course, there’s the state of our current diet and lifestyle. The fact that it’s easier to Supersize fries than braise kale (or, when McDonald’s takes the Supersizes off the menu, ordering two large fries because there’s no law against it). Sometimes, there’s a genetic component. But then, there’s also that teeny tiny issue of self-esteem. And I can think of nothing so morale-boosting as being ripped from the arms of your loving parents. Or even your non-loving parents. Mmmmm, it’s making me hungry just thinking about it.
I didn’t have this kind of weight problem growing up. Mine was more an issue of chronic skinniness. It didn’t matter how much I ate, I could never get ahead of the curve. Just kept growing. Upwards (though, I eventually topped out at a disappointing 5’3”). This was during the Amazing Processed Foods Revolution of the 1970’s, so it should have been easy to gain weight. The government got suspicious.
The state tried to intervene in my upbringing, telling my mom to get with the program by adding more fatty foods to my diet, maybe cut down on so much outdoor play. But she shunned expert advice and kept providing healthy snacks, enforcing vigorous Hula Hooping, and would even chase the ice cream man down the street with a garden hoe. What a wacko! Some days, I dreamed that Social Services would show up at my door just so I could have a candy bar. I was never so lucky.
When it comes to weight-related custody battles, while my inner 10-year-old thinks that a big brouhaha with police, restraining orders, and maybe even a spot on the local news would be totally awesome, the parent in me thinks the rehabilitation is worse than the crime. Maybe, there's another way.
(Incidentally, my favorite part of the story was when one of the experts being interviewed called the overweight 8-year-old in question a “freak.” Does the word “freak” mean something different in British English, by any chance?)