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Children and Junk Food: Are We Putting Them at a Health Risk?

Responsible parenting could be a matter of saying "no" to fast food and encouraging healthful eating habits for children.

Ever hear a parent say something like, "I brought you into this world, I can take you out"?

Hopefully, the parent was joking. But what if, inadvertently, he or she was doing just that?

American obesity is a serious problem that we're all aware of, as it's a constant concern in the media and a regular source of comedic criticism of our nation's society.

Look at Clawson's fast-food situation. Our city covers about two square miles, yet we have McDonald's, , two , , , , , , , , , , , and more. We have a few healthful choices, such as Subway and (to a degree), but the state of available and affordable fast food is obviously imbalanced.

I love spots such as and and , but I can't afford to eat at those types of places regularly, and as a busy single dad, I don't always have time to make square meals at home. I want my son to eat a healthful diet, but my life's situation isn't always conducive to that.

But then again, I've met many larger people who have told me how they enjoy eating and don't mind their weight. Maybe they are in denial, or maybe they've truly found happiness in spite of potential health problems. And any adult should have the liberty to choose that lifestyle.

But what about the newcomers to society — our children?

Knowing that children's diets are dependent upon their parents' choices for them, if a parent lets the child eat unhealthful foods, is that a form of abuse? Or is it a right that should be protected?

If a child is physically beaten or emotionally abused, or if conditions of the living area are a health risk, the public has a tendency to favor state government coming in for the rescue. But what if a loving mom just doesn't hide the Twinkies well enough? Or lets her child eat ice cream for lunch? Or always lets her daughter "super-size" daily fast-food meals?

If my 7-year-old son was on the fast track to diabetes and heart disease, but I operated under the notion that what I let him eat "makes him happy," am I offering him some extra layers of happiness in an often-depressing world? Or am I guilty of gross negligence?

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association postulates that it may be a good idea to place children in foster care temporarily if parents can't seem to handle the health and eating issues that plague our country's youth. These issues often lead to overweight, obese and unhealthy adults.

We know what cigarettes do to our bodies, and I've never met anyone who allowed his or her children to get a head start on the cancer-causing sticks. However, I know plenty of parents who feature sweets and fried foods as staples in their children's food pyramid.

I'm not saying snack foods are the devil, but discipline and rationing need to be in place to include them in a healthful diet.

Logically, I think this makes a pretty large degree of sense. However, a line needs to be drawn, a delicate one, as it will separate negligence from liberty — a very controversial place to draw a line.

The next time you're choosing between getting a healthful snack from or super-sizing the Baconator meal at , consider: Is this a special treat or just another lunch?

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