Childhood obesity is on the rise in the U.S., even First Lady Michelle Obama has led a program called Let’s Move to encourage young people and their families to eat healthy and increase physical activity. Among African-Americans and Hispanics the rates of obese children are off the charts where 40% of children are overweight or obese. Now, lawmakers in Puerto Rico are proposing a bill that would fine parents of obese children with fines up to $800!
The proposed bill would require public school teachers to single out students that are overweight and refer them to a social worker or counselor. The Puerto Rico Health Department would then meet with their parents to come up with a plan that would include healthy eating, exercise, and monitor their efforts with follow-up visits. They would make exceptions for children with medical conditions that have caused the obesity.
Six months after the initial visit, they would be revisited and if no progress is made, then they would be given another 6 months to try harder. If no progress is made after a year, then they would be fined anywhere from $500-$800.
While Hispanic and African-American kids lead the numbers in obesity, the overall rate among American children is at 18%, in Puerto Rico it’s 28%. Almost a third of children in Puerto Rico are obese and that puts them in a variety of health risks, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. What are your thoughts on this proposed law?