Science and Tech


Puerto Rico Might Start Fining The Parents Of Obese Children

A bill introduced into the Puerto Rican Legislature on Monday would allow the government to fine parents of obese children $500.
Posted at 12:10 PM, Feb 11, 2015

Well, here's one way to fight childhood obesity: Fine the parents. 

A Puerto Rican senator introduced a bill Monday that calls for forcing the parents of obese children to pay a $500 fine. (Video via Fox News)

Local outlet El Nuevo Dia explained the bill, saying first the U.S. commonwealth's Department of Education would identify children it believes to be obese and talk to their parents about ways to improve the child's health.

It says if within six months there's been no improvement in the child's weight, the case will then be sent over to the Department of Family "under complaint of abuse." The next step could be a fine of $500 for parents or guardians, and that fine can increase to $800 if there's still no progress.

Now, the fine is one thing, but the complaint of abuse is what's really upsetting some.

Especially because several studies in the past decade have proven obesity can sometimes be tied to genetics.

Fox News Latino reports a Puerto Rican nutritionist said: "The fact that these childhood obesity cases are rooted in lifestyle does not give one the right to step into people's private spaces. This is not abuse, it's a disease. ... Obesity is the result of many factors and what we need to do is find solutions."

According to the Obesity Action Coalition, a child is defined as obese if he or she has a body mass index-for-age in the 95th percentile.

Time reports 28 percent of children in Puerto Rico are considered obese. That figure is higher than the most recent U.S. numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2012 the CDC estimated around 18 percent of children ages 6-11 were obese and almost 21 percent of adolescents ages 12-19 were obese.