PARENTS who let their offspring gorge themselves until they become obese are committing child cruelty, a councillor has warned.

Pat Witherspoon, a member of Worcestershire’s health overview and scrutiny committee and a former social worker, feels the ‘abuse’ is just as big an issue as a child being underfed.

“I actually took a child into care because the youngster was underweight and in many ways this is the same issue,” she said.

“To me it is child cruelty. I don’t think we should lose sight of that.”

Tackling obesity is one of the county’s top health priorities.

As reported by your Worcester News, despite a slight improvement, new figures show almost one in three children between 10 and 11 in Worcestershire are still either obese or overweight.

But Coun Marcus Hart, county cabinet member for health, does not back taking children into care because they are obese.

“That is not really my idea,” he said.

“I think we should be doing all that we can to encourage parents to take more responsibility for their children.”

He said bringing more children into care would add to the council’s financial burden, insisting: “We ought to be ensuring that we work with schools and agencies to ensure that our children eat a balanced and healthy diet.”

But Councillor David Tibbutt believes no amount of education will make a real difference to those of any age.

He believes temptation is too readily available and said if people walk into a petrol station “where chocolates are everywhere”, then nine out of 10 of them will buy something.

“We have developed over thousands of years to eat whatever food is available,” he said. “This empowerment business is nonsense. You cannot empower people when they have a built-in imperative to eat.”

Society must find a way to remove “temptations”, he said, adding: “Someone’s choice is somebody else’s compulsion.”