Tuesday, March 06, 2007

the surgery we do

In Korea, it's all about the eyelids, noses, and lips. In America... it's all about the blubber.



Maven said...

It's not *just* America; however, I do believe we are the fattest country overall.

This post reminds me of this article, Obese child deemed victim of neglect.

Obesity = neglect = crime?

Let's bust up a loving family because their only crime is that their child/ren is/are fat.

Question: Why are more people not up in arms about the implications of this?

Genetics (MY Vast-Sweeping Over-simplification):

Face it. Some kids are (either knowingly or unknowingly) genetically prone to getting fat. Yes, skinny parents can have a fat child. Recessive genes anyone? Yes, fatness, just like blue eyes, are recessive, inheritable traits.

The Fat Man's Economics--The Cliff Notes version:

Let's take a look at the economics of it. Some folks who subsist primarily of fatty cuts of meat or carb laden foods because it's inexpensive, and they cannot afford healthier foods. (Freshman 15...Top Ramen... anyone?

I know from first hand experience what "government subsidized foods" are like. Gubm'nt cheese anyone? [ED: Oh and by the by, "da cheeze" is greasy, fatty and binding.]

It's not a stretch to suggest that the same parents who could not afford leaner cuts of meat, or scads of fresh fruits or veggies, cannot afford gastric bypass surgeries for their kids. Hell, this article about a little boy who died because of a toothache/abcess and his family couldn't afford proper medical care is another indication of what's wrong with our society.

Add to the genetics, the economics AND the environmental, you've got a health crisis on your hands.

Obesity---------->= crime?

As laughable or inconceivable as it may seem, Child Protective Services taking away children who are obese due to some perceived notion of neglect (let's face it, children can be willfull as all get out, despite the very best intentions of their parents), I don't like the message it's sending.

What about our Fourth Amendment to Privacy in our homes?

Did you ever see this "surveillance campaign" over at ACLU, where it uses the premise of ordering a pizza? It's only a matter of time before obese people are taxed or otherwise penalized* for their girth, and I am not implying merely higher medical insurance premiums, either.

*See Eugenics

The Fat Man's Future: MY Hypothesis

How is governmental interference and intervention on behalf of obese children not Eugenics? From that link on Wiki:

[...]Historically, eugenics has been used as a justification for coercive state-sponsored discrimination and human rights violations, such as forced sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, in some cases, genocide of races perceived as inferior[...]


What is next? Rounding up all the fatties, Stepfordizing the rest, and relaunch "New! And Improved! Soylent Green! NOW WITH HALF THE CARBS!

Kevin Kim said...

I think child obesity can be a sign of parental neglect, but I share your skepticism about government intrusiveness in the matter. At some point, we all become adults and have to make our own choices, exercising responsibility even in the face of chemically rooted compulsions and genetic predispositions.

Have you ever read the blog called The Homeless Guy? It's run by a guy named Kevin, and in one recent entry he links to a YouTube clip of Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson, who as you know hosts the Late Late Show on US TV. In the YouTube clip, Ferguson talks with compassion about both Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith-- two people woh are far too easy to joke about (as I've been guilty of doing myself).

Ferguson expresses sympathy for these women because he is a reformed alcoholic-- fifteen years sober, as of that broadcast. His point struck what I thought was a fair middle ground between the poles of compulsion and responsibility: yes, some of us are driven by our compulsions and predilections, but they can be fought. It's not as though life is all one or the other: as I wrote in one of my posts on suicide, we exercise our human freedom in and through our compulsions.

This means, on the one hand, that you're right and we shouldn't be too quick to judge a given situation: perhaps a given child's obesity is due to factors well beyond his/her control. At the same time, though, it's a hard-and-fast mathematical rule that you can't gain weight if you're taking in fewer calories than you're burning off, i.e., even people predisposed to be fat have some power to control their fate.

I agree that the government should probably butt out of the "fat kid" issue, but I suspect that there are clear-cut cases of parental neglect in which children become unnecessarily unhealthy. Judging which cases are which, though, is beyond me.


Maven said...

I just didn't like the implications of it, as well as setting a precedent for classifying obesity as child abuse. I'm very much Libertarian when it comes to government butting out of our day to day comings and goings....