Is Dieting and Extreme Exercise the Newest Form of Child Abuse? - DuPage County Divorce Attorney | Bloomingdale Family Law Lawyers
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Is Dieting and Extreme Exercise the Newest Form of Child Abuse?

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Illinois child custody attorney, illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer,Over the last decade, there has been a flooding of information regarding health issues and children. There have been a number of reports that childhood obesity can have a significant impact on not only this generation but generations to come. As a result, many movements have hopped to the scene to help parents deal with issues surrounding childhood obesity. It has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that in 2012, one third of all children and adolescents were defined as overweight or obese.

Parental Responsibility in Child Nourishment

Though many of these programs inspire healthy eating choices and an active lifestyle, many parents are taking these programs to the extreme and are actually injuring their children as a result. Parents have a parental responsibility to feed and adequately nurture their children in a healthy way.

Under Illinois law, a child may be deemed neglected or abused if the parent or other family member causes physical or emotional damage or injury to the child. With more and more reports of the problem with obesity, child abuse and neglect cases are taking the form of extreme dieting, starvation plans, and intense exercises that are pushing children to become malnourished, emotionally and psychologically-damaged, and in some cases, has resulted in death.

Child Abuse and Neglect Cases Around the Country

Currently there is a case in Alabama where the judge must decide whether to sentence a grandmother to life or lethal injection for running her nine-year-old granddaughter to death. There have also been other notorious cases dealing with parents forcing veganism on their infant and newborn children, which led to the children’s death as a result of starvation, malnutrition, and food deprivation.

The Traumatic and Long-Term Effects of Early Dieting in Young Girls

The effect of many of these programs, even when the children are not pushed to the extreme, can still have traumatic and long-term consequences. According to a study put forth at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, early dieting at a young age was predictive of serious issues in girls later on in life. The study found that there was a correlation between the age in which the young girl began dieting and the severity of the psychological issues that resulted.

The Study Results

For example, between a young girl at 11 and a young girl at 12 who both began their first diets, the 11-year-old was 67 percent more likely to be overweight/obese in her thirties, was 14 percent more likely to have an eating disorder, and 79 percent more likely to have an alcohol addiction issue than the 12-year-old. The reasoning may remain largely with the development of the children’s neural pathway; the more restricted the child was, the more harmful that these restrictions were on helping healthy development of the child’s neural pathways. Also, there was a suggestion that this type of early association could affect the way the brain understands the reward systems, such where food and alcohol play a dominant role in reward systems.

The Negative Effect of Parents in the Dieting Craze

The study also suggested that parental factors had a strong correlation between the child’s diet and the later effects, suggesting the home dynamic play a strong role in girls’ development. A mother who forces her child to diet or starve may have a stronger impact than the girl being pressured solely by standards espoused by society. This can be seen in quite a few court cases where parents or guardians have led to the injury, harm, and death of young children.

Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County

Parental responsibility is a crucial part of parenting. Ensuring that your child is healthy, nourished, and has a healthy relationship with food is essential for child development and should be espoused by parents. If you believe your ex-spouse is harming your child by promoting unhealthy diets and extreme exercise while your child is in their custody, it is important to speak with the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices. Contact our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.

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