U.S. territory proposes bill to punish parents of obese children

SAN JUAN (AP) — Legislators in Puerto Rico are debating a bill that would fine parents of obese children up to $800 if they don't lose weight.

Sen. Gilberto Rodriguez says the bill aims to improve children's wellbeing and help parents make healthier choices.

Public hearings for the bill are scheduled to begin Friday.

If approved, public school teachers would flag potential obesity cases. Health Department officials would then meet with parents and determine whether the obesity is a result of bad eating habits or a medical condition. They also would create a diet-and-exercise program, and parents could be fined if the situation does not improve.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control defines childhood obesity has having a body mass index or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.