Childhood Obesity Is Nothing to Kid About, But Should Parents Lose Custody?

Imani Mixon

| 2 min read

A school event in Washington, D.C. last fall aimed to introduce school children to healthy foods.
Many of America’s children are carrying a heavy burden — their weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.5 million children are obese in the United States. This startling reality has caught the attention of Michelle Obama with her “Let’s Move!” campaign and most recently Dr. David Ludwig, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston, who created an uproar with his suggestion that parents in some cases should lose custody of severely obese kids.
“State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity,” Ludwig wrote in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Via ABC News:
“In severe instances of childhood obesity, removal from the home may be justifiable, from a legal standpoint, because of imminent health risks and the parents’ chronic failure to address medical problems,” Ludwig co-wrote with Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health.
Although treatment is a main concern for many parents of obese children, many view foster care as an extreme repercussion. Many adults struggle with their own weight issues, and controlling their children’s health also proves to be a challenge. Every parent wants a healthy child, and many will do anything to ensure that their child leads a healthy lifestyle. Many parents would argue that their child’s weight is not directly representative of their parenting skills.
On the other hand, children usually are not making their own meals or driving themselves to the nearest fast food restaurant. Many insist that parents mold and enable the behavior of their children, especially their eating habits. Ludwig mentions that the unhealthy behavior and environment associated with childhood obesity can be viewed as neglect and warrants state intervention.
Whatever you think of his comments, Dr. Ludwig’s assertion should serve as a wake-up call. Childhood obesity is swiftly becoming an epidemic and cannot be ignored. Children are not immune from the unhealthy lifestyles that they are exposed to; it is our job to educate and protect them. Children who develop unhealthy eating habits will likely carry these practices into adulthood and become more susceptible to serious medical conditions.
Childhood obesity requires an aggressive treatment approach, but is foster care too drastic a measure?
Check out this video report from ABC below:

Photo by USDAgov.

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