Monday, December 7, 2009

I remember a news story from the late 90s about a toddler in Utah who was removed from his parents' home due to malnourishment. The parents believed he was a prophet and only fed him watermelon and lettuce, and at 20 months, he only weighed 15 pounds. Do you remember that story? This one's like that, except that it's completely ridiculous. Read the full story here.

Let's discuss.

So, a couple in Britain were worried because their son was a "fussy eater" and didn't seem to be growing at the rate one would expect.  With four other children, they'd had the opportunity to see what normal growth looks like.  Doing what any reasonable parent would do, mom got the toddler in to see a doctor.  Doing what any doctor severely lacking in brain cells would do, the doc told the mom to bulk the kid up on chips, cake, and candy.  Mom refused, and that's when the government intervened.  Because, you know, you're abusive and neglectful if you refuse to stuff your child full of junk.  Unfit parents take note! Kids have a right to eat crap!

After four months and an admission from social services workers that these were loving and capable parents, the boy was finally returned to his home.  Mom says he's now a chocoholic and only gained about 8 ounces on the sugar and fat filled regimen.  Good job, government.  He was clearly on the brink of death and you saved him with sweets.  What would we ever do without you?

To those who think I'm being a little hard on the docs and social service workers, I will point out that one of my own children was severely underweight as a toddler due to a heart condition.  On the day he went into surgery at a year old, Ray only weighed 13 pounds.  That's just three pounds heavier than his younger brother weighed at birth.  As he got older, I was given information on how to help him grow.  This included feeding him good fats such as avocados, olives, and peanut butter, hiding powdered milk in casseroles and sandwiches, adding cheese to meals, and supplementing his diet with Pediasure.  At no point was I ever instructed to bulk him up on junk food.  I bulked myself up on junk food, but I didn't need a doctor to tell me to do that. 

I'd like to know when refusing to do what a doctor said became abuse.  I can almost wrap my mind around the government stepping in when parents refuse chemotherapy...almost.  But a disagreement over nutrition?  Really?  Doesn't this entire case prove that doctors don't always know what they're talking about?  Doesn't it prove that parents must look at medical advice critically and make informed decisions rather than being blindly obedient to the medicos?  I think so.  I also think it proves that the junk food manufacturers are in bed with doctors in a vast conspiracy to keep humans unhealthy so there's more moolah to go around, but that's a column for another day.

The hospital involved in this debacle stands by its decision to involve the authorities, saying they still believe they acted in the child's interest.  Well, of course they do.  I imagine the butt-covering meeting in which they came up with that stance involved plenty of donuts and cookies.  Eating crow just isn't nutritious.

(Thanks to Sonja Y. for the heads up on the news story!)


Millionaira said...

oh my heck...that is BEYOND ridiculous!!!