According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years … but who or what is to blame?

Over the past several years, the childhood obesity/child protection issue has emerged, attracting both media and professional attention. As a complex and controversial issue, fingers are being pointed in many directions — including at parents.

In a recently published paper from the July issue of British Medical Journal, experts argue that the aetiology of obesity is so complex and parental neglect cannot be the root cause of their child’s obesity. However, consistent failure by parents to make efforts to change lifestyle and engage with professionals or weight management initiatives would constitute neglect.

This is of particular concern if an obese child is at imminent risk of disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, or mobility restrictions.

The child health experts wrote, “In all areas of child health, we have a duty to be open to the possibility of child neglect or abuse in any form. Guidelines for professionals are urgently needed, as is further research on the outcomes of child protection actions in obesity and links between early adversity and later obesity.”

Physicians can play a key role in fighting childhood obesity. Check out this week’s “In My Opinion” article, Dealing with Childhood Obesity, which explores the strategies physicians can use to positively impact overweight patients.