Risk, Harm and Intervention: the case of child obesity

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 17 (2):191-200 (2014)
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In this paper we aim to demonstrate the enormous ethical complexity that is prevalent in child obesity cases. This complexity, we argue, favors a cautious approach. Against those perhaps inclined to blame neglectful parents, we argue that laying the blame for child obesity at the feet of parents is simplistic once the broader context is taken into account. We also show that parents not only enjoy important relational prerogatives worth defending, but that children, too, are beneficiaries of that relationship in ways difficult to match elsewhere. Finally, against the backdrop of growing public concern and pressure to intervene earlier in the life cycle, we examine the perhaps unintended stigmatizing effects that labeling and intervention can have and consider a number of risks and potential harms occasioned by state interventions in these cases.

Author Profiles

Kristin Voigt
McGill University
Michael S. Merry
University of Amsterdam


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