Junkfood Science: More fat children seized by the government

September 11, 2007

More fat children seized by the government

With internet search engines nearly wiped clean of news contrary to the international war on obesity, this story wasn’t easily found. So, few healthcare professionals, parents and child advocates have heard that a Freedom of Information investigation of councils in the UK has just uncovered that three more children have been taken away from their parents and put into social services' care...because they are "too" fat.

According to a BBC investigation, at least 20 child protection cases this past year have involved a child’s weight. Details on most of these children’s situations and their fates are unavailable. According to the Daily Mail:

Three children go into care because they are too fat

Three children have been removed from their parents and taken into care because they are too fat, it has emerged... A Freedom of Information survey of councils has revealed two children have been taken into care by Tower Hamlets Council in London and Lincolnshire Council after concerns about their weight....

Dr Colin Waine, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “Taking children into care for this reason should never be necessary. What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken....But if the parents refuse to collaborate and the child becomes obese, I consider that a form of child abuse and taking them into care may be the last resort."

At the British Medical Association's conference in June, doctors put forward a motion calling for the parents of obese children under 12 to be targeted under child protection laws. Although the move was rejected, many doctors still believe steps should be taken to curb the UK's obesity epidemic.

Dr Matthew Capehorn, a GP from Rotherham, South Yorkshire-said: “If you are faced with a child who is severely undernourished alarm bells would be ringing....Having a child who is overweight poses as much of a danger to their health as a child who is suffering malnutrition, arguably, even more risk."

The article closed with the claim that by 2020 at least 20% of boys and 33% of girls in the UK will be obese unless action is taken immediately — and was sprinkled with claims of children’s health endangered by obesity — which are the take-home messages given to editors by the Towers Hamlets Council’s new child weight loss programme called MEND. The letters stand for “Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do it!” and the program is based on the popularized myth that children are fat because they have emotional issues, are inactive and eat badly.

But government programs aren’t the only interests behind these actions, which some view as thinly veiled threats to parents to shape up their children or else.

Dr. Capehorn’s name will be familiar to Junkfood Science readers. The UK press quoted him repeatedly when the young girl was taken from her home by the Cumbria Council earlier this year. He has been proposing that fat children be placed into government custody and taken from their parents. He made a motion at the British Medical Association’s annual conference in June that obesity be considered a form of parental neglect. According to the National Obesity Forum, he told the BMA:

If a child who is stick and bones turns up at a GP’s surgery or a at a hospital, there is immediate outrage. Health visitors and social services are called in and a court will decide if that child should be taken into care. But the same alarm bells don’t ring with an obese child even though in the long-term they are as much at risk of serious health problems as a child who is seriously under-nourished.

Dr. Capehorn appears to be on a tireless mission to lock up fat children, but there’s more behind his interests in promoting fears of fat and threatening such dire consequences for those failing to be slim. The Independent made a brief mention that he “runs an obesity clinic in Rotherham, South Yorkshire” in a story last summer.

But he isn’t your ordinary weight loss doctor.

Dr. Capehorn has been a long-time member of NETWORK-Lipolysis, a coalition of aesthetic lipolysis injection practitioners and core of NETWORK-Aesthetics. He is also a member of the International Society of Lipolysistherapy.

NETWORK members practice lipolysis injections as perfected by Dr. Franz Hasengschwandtner of Austria, one of their members. Lipolysis injections involve injecting a cocktail of chemicals that includes phophatidylcholine into fat areas of the body to “dissolve” the fat. The reality of this quack practice was reviewed here.

At their Paris conference in 2005, the NETWORK-Aesthetics members created the more credible-sounding parent entity NETWORK-Globalhealth in order to include other aesthetic therapies, such as the Alizonne weight loss treatment, and nonesthetic practices. The NETWORK hosts annual congresses where members can learn therapies to offer alongside their lipolysis injections, such as mesotherapy, facials and “utrasonolipolysis.”

Upon completing training in lipolysistherapy, doctors become a member of NETWORK-Globalhealth and the ISL. At the Globalhealth-Academy, these aesthetic lipolysistherapy doctors receive diplomas in “aesthetic therapies.” What are those? According to the Academy:

Every aesthetic surgeon should have a whole arsenal of therapies at his/her disposal in order, for example, to be able to carry out comprehensive wrinkle treatment that is suited to the needs of the particular patient, starting from skin-tautening procedures such as peelings, dermabrasion using laser and plasma sources, or mesotherapy, right through to injection lipolysis, botox treatment or treatment with fillers. This example can also be applied analogously to other areas of minimal invasive medicine, e.g. laser or anti-aging medicine.

A diploma of the Academy will be awarded to all doctors who have become certified in the following fields of aesthetic therapy: Peelings, Fillers, Aesthetic Mesotherapy, Botox Treatment, [and] Injection Lipolysis. The Diploma can be attained either through attendance at individual workshops or by participating in combined events such as our Summer Academy where, within one week, all the fields of therapy concerned are explained and demonstrated in practical application.

Isn’t it reassuring to know that medical associations and government agencies have given platforms to such experts in childhood obesity?

And the media laps it up.

And, more incredibly, that they think anyone would actually believe any of this.

The real picture of what the “crisis” of childhood obesity and most all of these supposedly deathly-ill "obese" children actually look like is seen in the photos in this story. Normal, healthy, growing children have always come in a diversity of shapes and sizes. Fewer children are sickly from childhood diseases or starving today, raising the average population statistics upward slightly. No wonder our children are healthier and living longer than ever! But those trying to convince us of a childhood obesity epidemic are the ones failing to recognize how absurd their definition of "obese" children has become. Growing numbers of parents aren't buying it, as they see their naturally fat children eating and active and just as healthy as other kids. Hysterical headlines driven by vested interests cannot change reality, create a nonexistent crisis, or make sound healthcare policies.

© 2007 Sandy Szwarc

Thanks Jacob!

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