Childhood Obesity and Restrictions of Parental Liberty: A Response to "Paternalism, Obesity, and Tolerable Levels of Risk"

Voigt, Kristin
April 2012
Democracy & Education;Apr2012, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p1
This paper responds to Michael Merry's recent contribution on childhood obesity. Merry's analysis highlights the difficulties in finding an appropriate balance between children's and parents' interests in antiobesity interventions and emphasizes the importance of weight stigma and its effects on the obesity debate. He concludes by recommending both a greater focus on policies that address society's contribution to childhood obesity and a greater involvement of obese individuals in the policy debate. This response focuses on three points. First, a more explicit recognition of parents' interests can support the case for the kinds of policies Merry has in mind. Second, while the perspective of obese individuals may make an important contribution to the policy debate, more direct interventions may be necessary to reduce weight stigma. Third, I consider connections between antiobesity interventions that restrict parental liberty and weight stigma.


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