Saturday, July 16, 2011

Parental Custody of Obese Children in Jeopardy?

There's no denying that obesity and general conditions of being overweight are plaguing the United States and other countries who model the American lifestyle. Facts and research bear out that obesity leads to other chronic and sometimes life-threatening health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease--among others.

So then, does it logically follow that severely obese children should be taken from their parents, as Harvard pediatric professor and obesity expert David Ludwig, contends in the July 13, 2011 article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association contends?

Or is the American family already a casualty of a government that is overstepping its bounds into the personal lives of its citizenry?

There has to be other solutions to this problem other than yanking children from their homes--and placing them where? Would foster families be the answer? Already there are too few foster families available for children taken from homes where abuse or neglect is suspected. What training would foster families be required to undergo that their care would be superior to the care morbidly obese children could receive at home?

Surely the public health care system could--and should--be updated to address the needs of not only children with obesity, but also parents and adults with the same health issue. Supervision could be provided by local health departments, with the responsibility of care for the child remaining where it should be--at home.

Education and community resources need to be available to families of all income levels and physical abilities. If the government needs to step in at all, let it be to ensure that all school systems have physical education classes.

It's true that childhood obesity is an issue that needs to be addressed, but let's do so within the family system. The family unit has endured throughout time, whereas governments come and go. We must say "No!" to Big Brother making any more intrusions into the family.

Sources: Time; "Should Parents Lose Custody of Their Extremely Obese Kids?"; Bonnie Rochman; July 13, 2011
              Journal of the American Medical Association; "State Intervention in Life-Threatening Childhood Obesity"; Lindsey Murtagh, JD, MPH and David Ludwig, MD, PhD; July 13, 2011


  1. I know that childhood obesity is becoming an alarming problem, and I'm sure the reasons are quite numerous for the rising rate of obesity.
    Nevertheless, I agree with you, let's leave the govt out of it. Get the govt involved and the problem will only get worse.

  2. Anthony, thanks for adding your thoughts. To date, the government has failed to demonstrate true success in so many areas, including the breakdown of the family unit.

    Dr. Ludwig, during an interview with MSNBC on July 15, has said his statement about taking overly obese children from their parents was taken out of context. Ludwig believes that should be considered only as a last step. You can read the article here: