How To Stop Childhood Overweight/Obesity – Part II

By Michael Applebaum, MD, JD, FCLM

Virtually everybody’s talking about it.

Virtually no one is doing anything about it.

Talk, talk, talk with a couple of yadda, yaddas added for good measure.

In Part II of “How To Stop Childhood Overweight/Obesity,” I will explain a fun way to halt these epidemics.

Part I appears as “For The Kids,” an earlier and still available rant.

What is more fun than schadenfreude?

Nothing. Go on, admit it.

Schadenfreude is “pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune.”

It is the stuff of slapstick.

Think Three Stooges.

And schadenfreude gets even better when the “someone else” is harmful or a law-breaker. This moves schadenfreude into the domain of “just desserts.”

Who doesn’t like seeing someone else getting what they deserve?  

No one.

Virtually every state has laws against child abuse. Generally these are patterned after the federal government’s Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act or CAPTA.

Nutritional child abuse is usually included in the ways kids can be abused. Picture starvation as being at one end of the spectrum and overweight/obesity at the other.

As part of these laws, there are "mandatory reporters."

Mandatory reporters are certain persons obligated to report child abuse to the authorities and if they don’t they are in violation of the law.

Mandatory reporters usually include clergy, sick care workers (e.g., physicians, nurses) and school employees (e.g., teachers, principals).

Here is how to have fun.

Next time you go to a house of worship, pediatrician’s office or school, take note if there are any overweight/obese children. A picture from your cell phone is even better. The fun will be even greater if you can get a picture of a politician's kid.

You don’t have to know their names.

Just document when (date, time) and where and who (doctor, teacher).

Then call social services in your locality and tell them that on (date, time) you were at (such and such place), saw a nutritionally abused child and wondered if the (doctor, teacher) reported it to social services. Offer the picture, if you have one.

Make sure you get the name of the person to whom you spoke and ask them to follow-up with you. If they say they cannot, ask to speak with a supervisor. Get the supervisor's name. Ask the supervisor to follow-up with you. Explain you are worried and you do not want to have a possibly law-breaking, unconcerned, irresponsible, etc., doctor or clergy or teacher involved in your child's life.

Irresponsibility is a slippery slope.

After all, if they are law-breakers in this aspect of child well-being, who knows of what they are capable? It is a shuddering thought. Will they call the cops if they see your kid being beaten up? Or talking to a stranger who hangs around the school, house of worship or pediatric clinic?

Tell all your friends to do the same when their opportunity arises.

Then sit back and wait.

Eventually a critical mass of calls will prompt some action.

Once the action starts, the media will pick-up on it and really get the ball rolling. (You could go to the media first and work the system backwards so social services is embarrassed into action. Your choice.)

Once the action starts, enjoy.

Have fun!

Remember you are doing good at the same time.