Free-Range Kids

Proposed Law Would Label Parents of Fat Kids "Child Abusers"

One extra helping of mofongo and Puerto Rican parents are fonged.



Come out with your hams up!

The Puerto Rican government is proposing a new law that would label the parents of obese kids as "child abusers."

Now, no one is saying that obesity isn't a problem, especially among kids. Obesity rates have doubled worldwide since 1980. The World Health Organization's most recent numbers show 39 percent of the adult population is overweight, and 13 percent is obese. In Puerto Rico, that combined number is 66 percent.  As for Puerto Rico's kids: Studies have found their obesity rates to be anywhere from 24 to 30 percent.

So along comes this proposed law: Fat kid = abusive parent. Senator Gilbert Rodriguez Valle introduced the bill that would establish a process of identifying obese children in school ("There's a porker!") and sending social workers to investigate the families. If the social workers see no improvements after a year, the parents could be fined up to $800.

That's right: The government is telling parents they don't know how to feed their own kids. As if shaming and fining is the government's job.

This law ignores the fact that while moms and dads play a big role in their kid's eating habits, so do a plateful of other factors, including education, friends, social norms, the food that's available, and, of course, genes. There's a cornucopia of forces at work in this complex problem, and no simple solution exists—especially not one handed down by an overreaching government.

Dr. Ricardo Fontanet, the president of Puerto Rico's chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, highlighted this oversimplified take on obesity, telling The Guardian: "They're not involving pediatricians, nutritionists, dieticians, the people who prepare the lunches in schools, in any of this." Because it's so much simpler to just blame the parents.


The futility of trying to legislate away obesity is well documented. Denmark was one of the first countries to take a stab at this when it enacted a tax on foods containing more than 2.3 percent saturated fat in 2011. Authorities eventually realized that all the law did was inflate food prices, rather than deflating waistlines. They abolished the tax after just a year and cancelled their next plan: a tax on sugary foods.

But Puerto Rico's proposed law is much more sinister. Not only does it misdiagnose the root of the epidemic, it tells parents that the government is sitting at their kitchen table, watching every forkful. One extra helping of mofongo and parents are fonged.

If that doesn't make you want to go scarf a pint of ice cream, what does?

NEXT: Shikha Dalmia on the Rubio-Lee Tax Reform Plan

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  1. More evidence of skinny-privileged people foisting their bigotry on the rest of us.

    1. You joke, but I’ve heard this sort of vitriol in action.

      If I understand it correctly, people who are attractive and/or slim are oppressing the hell out of the rest of the population by raising the standards of prospective romantic/sexual partners far too high. They are the biological “lucky” and genetically “rich” and, and and it’s not fucking fair. We should eat them.

      Do I win a cookie?

    2. I’m not so sure of this. In my experience the vast majority of progies asking for government intervention into citizens’ diets are actually fat people themselves. They project their own inability to say no to a cookie onto everyone else.

  2. seems legit

  3. Thanks for getting the skinny on this fat-headed legislator.

  4. Senator Gilbert Rodriguez Valle introduced the bill that would establish a process of identifying obese children in school…

    BMI! BMI!

  5. And any parent that lets their kids out to play unsupervised is also guilty of neglect. So, you can let them be kids and be indicted that way or keep them in the hot house so they get fat and be indicted for that.

    1. Are there no treadmills, no workhouses?

      1. Would child tred mills be eligible for a green energy credit?

    2. Clearly the solution is mandatory government boarding schools.

      It takes a village, John.

    3. You joke, John, but really this is another way of criminalizing the poor who can’t afford soccer lessons.

      1. That is exactly what it is. Progressive hate poor people. Poor people just do things Progs don’t like and that mess up their best laid plans. So progs forever want poor people criminalized and jailed.

    4. “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kinds of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of lawbreakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.” –Floyd Ferris, Atlas Shrugged

      1. They’ll get you, my pretty! And your fat little dog, too!


  6. They abolished the tax after just a year and cancelled their next plan: a tax on sugary foods.

    WHAT? Who does this?

  7. our future

    Are you hiding fatties?

  8. In related news, Chris Christie’s parents were arrested in San Juan and promptly executed.

  9. What this country needs is a good famine to clear up everyone’s perspective.

    1. Aren’t food deserts the same thing?

      1. No food desert have too much food. Just the kind of food that progressive nannies hate.

        1. Food insecurity?

  10. Mofongo is so fucking good when it’s done right.

    1. I must have had bad mofongo. Super dry.

    2. YASSSSSSS! Plantains are fucking delicious.

  11. Just to add insult to injury, the social worker that jams her nose into your family life will probably be an obese lesbian who has no kids. But she’ll know better than you how to feed your kids, ‘cuz gubmint.

    1. With fat kids. But that’s okay, because her kids have dietary issues, psychoactive meds with weight-gain side effects and big bones. You, now, you’re just a bad parent. If you had a degree in Early Childhood Education, you’d know the difference.

  12. Obesity rates have doubled worldwide since 1980.

    How much of that was caused by lowering the standard 1998?

    1. *back in 1998 even…

      1. That’s what you get for resting your gut on the keyboard, fatty!

  13. Chuck Schumer’s parents are in trouble.

  14. Checked out the senator’s political affiliation:

    its founders defined the party as center-left in the ideological spectrum.[2][c] In recent years however, its leaders describe the party as being centrist.

    Because nothing quite says “centrist” like locking up parents whose kids fail the government’s standards for permissible body shape.

  15. What a missed opportunity to post chubby pics. John will be so disappointed.

  16. The futility of trying to legislate away obesity is well documented. Denmark was one of the first countries to take a stab at this when it enacted a tax on foods containing more than 2.3 percent saturated fat in 2011.

    You’re doing it wrong. Tax excess body weight.

    1. Or at least target a nutrient that is a significant contributor to obesity.

      1. Or at most don’t do anything because it’s none of your fucking business.

  17. For the first time in human history, the world is having to combat obesity among its poorest citizens.

    1. Filling, healthy, or cheap. Pick two.

      That’s the problem for parents on the poor end of the wealth scale — they can’t afford healthy and filling, and dropping filling in favor of cheap isn’t much of an option either. And now. At least in Puerto Rico, they won’t be able to afford feeding their kids at all. If they buy the food they can afford, they get fined and the kids are taken away. If they buy the food the law requires, they might not be able to afford other things — such as rent — and the kids get taken away anyway.

  18. Yes because those plates of carbs and gallons of highly surgard milk that you shovel in front of their faces at school lunches have absolutely NOTHING to do with how fat they are, right?

    1. I was thinking the same thing. They pour fat-free chocolate milk down kids’ throats and check off the “dairy” section on their MyPlate list, then criticize parents for having fat kids. Unbelievable.

      At least they’ve admitted that they lied to the American public for all those decades about cholesterol. Well I guess they didn’t admit to lying, they just updated their recommendations. But it’s a tiny baby step in the right direction.

  19. ‘That’s right: The government is telling parents they don’t know how to feed their own kids. As if shaming and fining is the government’s job.’

    I’m sure there are a lot of parents who don’t know how to feed their kids (nutrition wise), but this sure isn’t going to fix anything! Silly.

  20. “Because it’s so much simpler to just blame the parents.”

    Because destroying parental authority in favor of making children mindlessly loyal to the State has been a progressive wet dream since the 19th century. This is just another shot at doing so.

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  22. Being raised in a household that had next to nothing we had to for everything we had. My mother would do anything to put food on the table for my family and I. Now that being said, when I see parents giving their kids enough food to cause obesity to even be a problem, I am torn. On one hand, if you have the privilege to give your kids what they need, by all means use that privilege. Being a parent myself i would do anything to keep my son happy. On the other hand, i know what it is like to not have enough food to go around so when i see these kids being so overweight they can hardly walk, it crushes me to think of all those who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That being said, parents need to take in consideration their children s health and future and understand that they need exercise to accompany their eating habits. The real problem is not the food consumption, but lack of sufficient exercise to justify this consumption. The focus on this article should be aimed at lack of children’s activity instead of diet. If the laws were structured to promote exercise instead of criticize parents methods of feeding their children, the message would appear much more attainable.

    1. I really wouldn’t want to see the government controlling or regulating someone’s exercise either. But I think I understand that you are emphasizing the Puerto Rican focus is on only one side of a multi faceted issue. I REALLY wouldn’t want to government to be in control of ALL the facets. Better they just stay out of it altogether.

    2. What I think is that government should regulate this for schools as these are establishments of learning and if the school should teach anything that is important it should be physical education, but i also believe do believe that parents should also contribute to a child’s physical activity and this should be looked at by the government and if neither of these two factors deal with the issue i think there should be some sort of action being taken.

  23. Well right of the bat, I gotta say Denmark’s government is a whole lot smarter than ours if, after only one year, they not only abolished the one tax, they dropped the other! Our country would just pile on more in an effort to include everyone, you know, to be fair in this land of the free. The only thing that surprises me in this article is that Puerto Rico did it first. God help us.Anyone want to take bets on the first state to say, Heeey, good ideeea!
    Love ya Lenore!

  24. It is our business because who’s paying for the ham planets to lay in a hospital bed struggling to breathe at the early age of 60? Thats right, the tax payers.

  25. While obesity is a problem, being too thin causes more health risks and will ultimately kill you faster than being too fat. By passing a law criminalizing being fat, they run the risk of encouraging parents to feed their kids poorly.

  26. “They’re not involving pediatricians, nutritionists, dieticians, the people who prepare the lunches in schools, in any of this.” Because it’s so much simpler to just blame the parents.

    Oh, horseshit. While i agree this is most definitely not one of the things government does well and should stay the hell out of, parents who care about obesity and want to prevent it in their kids usually do so.

  27. my friend’s sister-in-law makes $68 /hour on the laptop . She has been without work for 10 months but last month her income was $12752 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check out the post right here [][][][]

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  28. It would seem that what the government is doing quite justified in some cases by being very involved in trying to solve an obvious problem in the society rather than leaving the issue alone to people to solve for themselves. But Ms. Skenazy does also bring valid points on merely blaming parents for children being involved, and having the government only look at them as the underlying cause of the problem, which makes me believe there should be government regulation of child obesity in Puerto Rico, but the government should rethink their approach by instead also looking at what parents are feeding their kids, what schools are serving, and should even regulate physical activity in schools and should offer programs to fulfill needed activity to work off the food, and if there is no improvement in any of these, then the government should intervene in the matter and go with the option of the fine. What it all boils down to is the combined intelligence of the government looking at all causes of the problem, parents and schools being mindful of what they feed their children, and then, and only then can we reach a stronger , healthier world.

  29. Being raised in a family that was well off, I never paid much attention to the ongoing problem of obesity. During my childhood, both my parents had steady jobs, therefore there was always food on my plate. However, not once, did the idea of wasting food ever cross our mind. This picture of parenting caused obesity pains me greatly. Not only is there many people who go hungry every night but know there are these folks who are wasting food and “plumping” their children to the point of health issues. It’s just disgraceful. However, instituting a law? I think this is a little far out. True it is wrong but it is the parents’ choice on how they feed their children, not the governments. Instead of targeting the parents, maybe the government should look at what they are eating; at school and at home (as said by John Veidt above). This approach is more civil and stops the blaming and gets to the causes of the problems.

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