Lawmakers in Puerto Rico have introduced a controversial measure that could punish the parents of overweight children.
As Fox Latino reports, the bill was introduced in Puerto Rico’s senate and would have education officials identify obese children and then tell their parents what they can do to help them. Fox Latino adds:
“If, after six months, education officials determine that the child’s condition has not improved, a staffer can refer the case to child-family services authorities as one involving abuse or mistreatment.
“If after another six months the situation persists, the parents can be assessed up to $500 in fines.
“Six months after that, if the problem continues, the parents can be fined an additional $800.”
The Associated Press reports that Sen. Gilberto Rodriguez, one of the bill’s sponsors says the program aims to “improve children’s wellbeing and help parents make healthier choices.”
The wire service adds that “more than 28 percent of children in Puerto Rico are considered obese, compared with some 18 percent in the U.S. mainland.”
The Puerto Rican paper, El Nuevo Dia, spoke to legal and health experts who called the proposal “incorrect” and “superficial.”
Ricardo Fontanet, the president of the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that this kind of initiative will complicate things, because some “kids are obese because of medical complications or genetic issues.”
A law professor told the paper that it would be terribly difficult to prove that having an obese child implies that the parents have mistreated the kid.