Nanny State Legislation

Well it is nice to see that the Nanny Staters are keeping so busy and being so worried. Now the big thing is fat kids. There are so many fat kids out there that the state has to intervene and tell parents what to do.

Proposed legislation would require schools to test students for diabetes. Another would require school officials to report a child’s body mass index, or BMI, to his or her parent. The body mass index can be used to indicate if a person is overweight. It’s determined by a formula based on height, weight and age.

I bet most parents don’t need a note home to let them know if their kid is over/underweight. And the solution is pretty straightforward: more activity (i.e. less television, less video games) and less junk food.

But the question is, is it the government’s responsibility to displace parents on this issue? Your kid is overweight so you must follow government dictates?

“It’s to the benefit of everybody, everyone for government to find a role to intervene when other folks are not willing to do the right thing,” Ortiz said. “What we’re doing here as government is to tell people to make choices.”

That last part is patently untrue; in fact I’d say it is an outright bald faced lie. It isn’t about “making choices” since there is only one action that is deemed acceptable. If, for example, a parent looks at the note and tosses it in the trash and does nothing, Felix Ortiz would not find that acceptable.

An additional problem is that for those parents as well as adults who don’t have kids who do make sure their kid is healthy this would amount to more money coming out of their pockets. Some parents are unconcerned about their children’s weight, so people who have no kids or who make sure their kids get plenty of exercise have to pay for this decision?

Further, there are likely to be other idiotic things like the regulation of school lunch portion size (I know that article is about restuarants, but this kind of Nanny Statism tends to expand rather quickly so it would be only a matter of time before school lunches were impacted, IMO). This is completely moronic. My son, who buys the school lunch, has recently started taking a lunch as well. Why? Because the protions with the hot lunch are no longer sufficient. My son is extremely active for an 8 year old.1

Here is an idea: A fat tax…no seriously. The fat tax is an adjunct to the income tax. Not only do you report your income, deductions, etc., but also your BMI. If you’re too fat your taxes are increased. If your kids are too fat, your taxes are increased. At least this way, we’d go after the chubbos and those who aren’t overweight don’t have to pay for those who pack on the pounds.
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1He swims 5-6 times a week for 1 to 1.5 hours, and this isn’t play swimming either, it is training. At the last fund raiser he swam over 100 laps (short course yards) in one hour. So as one might expect, his caloric intake is probably astronomical compared to most kids his age.

FILED UNDER: Health, US Politics, , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Scott_T says:

    Dude, you don’t know the 1/2 of it.

    My stepson had a note sent home that he needed his eyes checked.

    We had them checked, he got glasses (and has to wear them his perscription is that bad), went back to school.

    Then we got a note saying they’d like a response about him needing glasses. As in written correspondance.

    He’s wearing them, Hello!!!!

  2. Well, how would you propose going about public health education about increasing rates of juvenile diabetes?

    I mean, you’re already paying for the health complications of untreated diabetes in your insurance premiums, so I’m unsure how the school simply giving people more information – increasing the options available after getting that information – constitutes nanny-statism.

    As the commenter mentioned above, they checked me for vision problems as a kid, and lice, and scoliosis. Was that “nanny-statism,” as well? I could see how these bits of legislation could turn into government meddling, but schools looking out for the health of kids isn’t traditionally seen as the hand of Big Government run amok …

  3. Jim Maner says:

    BMI is not a good measure of fat. Meany eating disorders can be started by telling a kid he/she is fat per BMI when they just are not in the norm re build etc.
    AND not all are barbies.

  4. just me says:

    I don’t think parent need the school to tell them their kids are overweight.

    I also am not comfortable with the schools screening for diabetes, since it involves testing a bit more invasive than a hearing or eye screening does.

  5. Fersboo says:

    If the State wants to continue paying for health care, they better protect their investment (ie. confiscated income) by lowering the risk of paying out in the future.

    Big Tobacco.

    Now it is Big Sugar.

    Soon it will be Big Meat?

  6. RA says:

    Just like the Nazis, the Soviet, Chinese , and Cuban communists, the Democrats believe the state owns your children, not the parents.

    This is another attack on the family by the socialist totalitarians that control the Democratic party.

    Death to the socialists.

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    Well, how would you propose going about public health education about increasing rates of juvenile diabetes?

    Uhhhmmm taking your kid to the doctor? Shocking I know.

    I mean, you̢??re already paying for the health complications of untreated diabetes in your insurance premiums, so I̢??m unsure how the school simply giving people more information Рincreasing the options available after getting that information Рconstitutes nanny-statism.

    Probably because the untreated diabetes impact on insurance premiums is another form of statism. That shouldn’t be covered under insurance. Insurance should be for the unexpected. Being obese pretty much comes with adverse health issues. It is like having pregnancy covered by insurance.

    As the commenter mentioned above, they checked me for vision problems as a kid, and lice, and scoliosis. Was that â??nanny-statism,â?? as well?

    Yep. Funny, we manage to take our kid to the eye doctor at least once a year.

    I could see how these bits of legislation could turn into government meddling, but schools looking out for the health of kids isnâ??t traditionally seen as the hand of Big Government run amok â?¦

    Telling kids what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, etc. is the government running amok.

    If the State wants to continue paying for health care, they better protect their investment (ie. confiscated income) by lowering the risk of paying out in the future.

    Big Tobacco.

    Now it is Big Sugar.

    Soon it will be Big Meat?

    Absolutely. The government is paying for it, so one way to control costs is to control what people put in their bodies.

  8. Herb Ely says:

    I bet most parents don�t need a note home to let them know if their kid is over/underweight. And the solution is pretty straightforward: more activity (i.e. less television, less video games) and less junk food.

    Sadly, many parents do. they are in denial about how heavy their kids actually are. That said, I doubt that a note or a school based education program will make much difference. The real danger comes when it doesn’t make much difference and some one proposes even more invasive and restrictive regulations. A free society should be able to find better solutions. Weight related discounts on health insurance might be a possibility.

  9. kimsch says:

    The doctors office can do diabetes screening. Your child should go to the doctor at least once a year, not just when the school district mandates it (and they do). I can understand the school recommending a professional vision test. The teacher sees the child on a daily basis and can observe if the child seems to be having difficulty seeing at different distances. The child doesn’t often have to read a chalkboard from the back of the room at home. Weight, diabetes and other screenings are most properly done by the pediatrician.

  10. Anderson says:

    Okay, let me play state’s advocate:

    Lots of parents neglect their children’s health. Perhaps b/c of poverty, perhaps b/c of stupidity or wickedness. Anyway, it happens, and it’s not a rarity.

    Is the State’s attitude supposed to be “sorry kids, but you got bad parents, so your health is nobody’s business”?

    OTOH, failing to take your kid to the doctor is not the kind of thing we terminate parental rights for, as a rule.

    So laws like the ones derided above strike me as an attempt at compromise: respecting in large part parental rights over the children, while trying to intervene to protect the children.

    It’s debatable, but I don’t think the state should be mocked quite so roundly.

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    Lots of parents neglect their childrenâ??s health.

    Then maybe the state should regulate who becomes a parent?

    Is the Stateâ??s attitude supposed to be â??sorry kids, but you got bad parents, so your health is nobodyâ??s businessâ???

    But why does it have to be my business if a parent wants to let their kid(s) play Gamecube instead of getting exercise and doing homework? If I’m going to pony up the money, I want the right to check out my neighbors parenting skills.

    OTOH, failing to take your kid to the doctor is not the kind of thing we terminate parental rights for, as a rule.

    But it is enough to take a small bit of my life away from me. I know sounds like hyberpole, but lets run through it. The state says, “We need to conduct vision tests which will cost more money.” So they raise my taxes. This means that part of my income is taken. But I got that income by selling my time. My time is my life.

    So laws like the ones derided above strike me as an attempt at compromise: respecting in large part parental rights over the children, while trying to intervene to protect the children.

    By disrespecting my rights.

    Itâ??s debatable, but I donâ??t think the state should be mocked quite so roundly.

    Why not? Try getting a stray dog in our society. Many places you go to will ask you all sorts of questions, they’ll want the whole family there to make sure everyone gets along with the dog, including other family pets. You have describe how you’ll do things like house break the dog, and whether or not somebody will be home during the day, etc.

    But you want to have a kid; no questions asked. Can’t support it, no problem everybody else will. You can’t get off your rump to take the kid to the doctor 1 to 2 times a year? No problem, we’ll just raise taxes and have the schools do it (never mind reading or math).

    This is very, very mockable. And our society has made it so.

  12. Anderson says:

    Then maybe the state should regulate who becomes a parent?

    Great idea! Political non-starter! Next!

    If Iâ??m going to pony up the money, I want the right to check out my neighbors parenting skills.

    Yes, but by ponying up the money, that’s exactly what “you” are doing, via your good friend and delegate, The State.

    But it is enough to take a small bit of my life away from me.

    In that case, you are already dying the Slow Death of One Million Pinpricks, and you should be a LOT more engaged about how your money’s being pissed away in, say, Iraq, than about trying to help some kids.

    By disrespecting my rights.

    Sorry, not following: your right to neglect your children, or your right not to pay taxes to help anyone but yourself? Or did I miss Door # 3?

    (With ya on the “stray dog”/”baby” paradox, but see “political non-starter,” above.)

  13. Steve Verdon says:

    Great idea! Political non-starter! Next!

    Don’t you care about the children?!?!?!

    Yes, but by ponying up the money, thatâ??s exactly what â??youâ?? are doing, via your good friend and delegate, The State.

    No, the State is doing, and doing it badly, IMO. This is why we have the State looking into prohibiting running on playgrounds, and yet getting all bothered about kids getting fatter.

    In that case, you are already dying the Slow Death of One Million Pinpricks, and you should be a LOT more engaged about how your moneyâ??s being pissed away in, say, Iraq, than about trying to help some kids.

    Well there are lots of things that annoy me about how the government spends money. Just because I don’t have time to blog about every stupid thing the government wastes money doesn’t mean I’m not annoyed with them.

    Oh and some of them aren’t pin-pricks…some are pretty big.

    Sorry, not following: your right to neglect your children, or your right not to pay taxes to help anyone but yourself? Or did I miss Door # 3?

    No kidding you aren’t following…

    My point was that the State disrespects my rights when it comes to things like my life. Now I have to spend part of my life working to pay for other people who neglect their children. Basically the State enables this kind of thing when it goes out and tries to fix it.

    (With ya on the â??stray dogâ??/â??babyâ?? paradox, but see â??political non-starter,â?? above.)

    Maybe we need to take a page out of the People’s Republic of China’s handbook here.

  14. floyd says:

    schools already cost too much and fail to teach enough. more stupid irrelevant intrusion in areas beyond their purpose is just the trick. it would get the taxes so high that nobody could afford to get fat , or waste time on video games or ride to school.

  15. Anderson says:

    Now I have to spend part of my life working to pay for other people who neglect their children. Basically the State enables this kind of thing when it goes out and tries to fix it.

    Catch-22: either the State ignores low-grade child neglect (bad), or terminates parental rights in such cases (bad), or tries interventions (bad).

    Sorry it’s an imperfect world.

    Now, could we please get some creationists saying something stupid, so that Steve & I can make nice again?

  16. Steve Verdon says:

    Anderson,

    I aim to please:

    Intelligent Reasoning

  17. floyd says:

    anderson; i was neglected or ignored until twelve, then abandoned. i thank God everyday that this happened before the era of arogant incompetent government interference. when government “cares” it inevitably becomes tyranny.

  18. Anderson says:

    Good one, Steve:

    Is there any greater science stopper than “sheer dumb luck”? I don’t think so.

    WOL (Wincing Out Loud.)