When children have been found to be severely undernourished, the situation is often described as child abuse and the state swoops in. What happens, though, when a child is severely over-nourished – that is, severely obese?
That is the topic of many forums and online commentaries right now: Should parents lose custody (temporarily) of their extremely obese children? Here’s where I read some heated comments on it.
They’re not talking kids who are 20 or 40 pounds overweight. They’re talking about a 90-pound 2-year-old (who at age 12, reached 400 pounds and had developed diabetes, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure and sleep apnea), or a 555-pound 14-year-old.
The question came up when the distinguished Journal of the American Medical Association published this article calling for state intervention for the most extreme cases.
Writes the authors, Harvard pediatrics professor and obesity expert David Ludwig and attorney Lindsey Murtagh, a Harvard public-health researcher of the article: “When children become that obese, with a BMI at or above the 99th percentile, it signals a ‘fundamentally different situation’ than mere ‘poor parenting.’ State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, comprising the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors.”
It’s a touchy subject. A lot of people are quick to shoot back that it’s an absurd idea. What do you think?
I haven’t actually decided what side I’m on, yet. I can see both arguments made.
Ludwig is advocating removal as the last resort for the most severe cases – not an indefinite removal of all chubby kids across the nation. He’s has defended his commentary saying that parent-child separation needed to be short and at the last resort, after child protective services should offer “intermediate options such as in-home social supports, parenting training, counseling, and financial assistance…”
However, critics say any separation will cause irreparable damage to a child, causing emotional problems and behavioral problems. Another critic said blaming the parents is short-sided, and it would be wiser for the government to focus on the food culture (which I think it already is beginning to do so).
Good arguments made by all. Who’s right here? Should the government butt out or should severely over-nourished children be treated with the same concern for their welfare as the severely under-nourished?