A Puerto Rican bill that fines parents of obese children has stirred up controversy among obesity researchers around the world. They are calling the bill unfair and unbelievable. The Puerto Rican bill would fine parents of obese children up to $800.
Gilberto Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican Senator has filed a bill that attempts to curb obesity in Puerto Rico. Rodriguez wants school to find students who are obese and then send them to health department advisers that would determine the cause of their obesity. The next step for those children would be to go on a diet and exercise plan and come in for regular checks every four weeks.
According to the new bill, when health practitioners examine the children after six months and they find no change with their weight and health, then parents can be fined up to $500. If six more months later still show no improvement with the child, then the bill proposes that the parents of the obese child be fined up to $800.
Nikhil Dhurandhar, chairperson of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University had this to say about the Puerto Rican bill that fines parents of obese children:
What’s next? Will they be fining parents of children suffering from other diseases? Maybe diabetes? Maybe cancer? Maybe something else?
She continued to say that Rodriguez’s bill assumes that people who are obese choose to be obese and can also choose not to be obese and that things are not that simple with obesity.
Dhurandhar has made extensive research in the field of obesity and she found that obesity can be caused by a plethora of factors, such as too much or too little sleep, chemicals in the environment and even the environment in a mother’s womb. She concluded that there is so much more to losing weight than exercising more and eating less.
Another person who criticized the Puerto Rican bill that fines parents of obese children is Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. She said that the bill proposal in unfair, it stigmatized parents and that childhood obesity is a very complex issue. What would make a difference would be policies that support the parents of obese children, not fine them.
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