In Puerto Rico, parents of obese children may soon be subject to a fine up to $800 if the children do not lose weight, reports The Associated Press.
A 2011 study of the prevalence of obesity among young Puerto Ricans found that 40 percent of the population between the ages of 10 and 19 were either overweight or obese.
Lawmakers are currently debating the possibility of a bill which would punish parents who have allowed their children to reach an unhealthy and dangerous weight, and have not made efforts to improve their diets.
It’s worth noting that in the same 2011 study, researchers found that “youth whose parents were obese were more than two times more likely to be overweight or obese than those whose parents were at a desirable weight.”
If approved, potential obesity cases would be flagged by education officials, and families would then meet with Puerto Rico’s Health Department to determine whether the obesity is a result of a poorly-regulated diet or a medical condition, and then establish a diet and exercise program for the child, plus monthly check-ups.
If after six months, the situation has not improved, education officials may refer the case to a counselor or social worker, depending on the severity of the situation, according to Fox Latino.
If after another six months, an evaluation indicates that the child has still not lost weight, parents face a $500 fine. If subsequent evaluations reveal the same, parents then face an additional $800.
Public hearings for the proposed bill are scheduled for Friday, February 13.