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New Puerto Rican Law Would Label Parents of Obese Children as Child Abusers

April 27, 2015 2 min read

Puerto Rico is attempting to tackle childhood obesity on the island. A new law has been proposed that would potentially fine parents of obese children $1300 and brand them as child abusers. In the U.S., childhood obesity rates are around 17 percent and in Puerto Rico the number sky rockets with estimates anywhere from 24 to 30 percent. This is exactly why Senator Gilberto Rodriguez Valle has introduced a bill that he calls a "healthy child program." If the bill is signed into law, it will require obese kids to be identified at school and their parents will be educated about the dangers of staying obese or overweight. b5b7529dcdd6f0e5db5287c757d05034 This law would also allow social workers to open child neglect cases against parents and fine them $500 if they do not believe progress has been made after 6 months. If they believe that still no progress has been made after a year, they can add another fine of $800. Those in opposition to the bill say that although it addresses the obesity crisis, it will not solve it. "First, [Senator Rodriguez Valle] is saying that if you have an obese child in the house, it's synonymous with child abuse, and that's completely wrong," Dr. Ricardo Fontanet, president of the Puerto Rico chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the Guardian. "Second, they're not involving pediatricians, nutritionists, dieticians, the people who prepare the lunches in schools, in any of this." childhood-obesity Other say that the law is overly simplistic and doesn't take other contributing factors into account like finances (the 2010 census showed that 58 percent of Puerto Rican children live in a high-poverty area) which can limit access to clean, fresh food and fitness facilities. Senator Rodriguez Valle said that he doesn't expect the bill to pass but hopes to at least "shake the tree so everyone sees this." What do you think? Would the passing of this law be a great start or would it be too much government oversight? Would you like to see a law like this where you live?

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