Removing Obese Children From Their Parents…Right or Wrong?

There is a controversial debate on whether children who suffer from dangerous and life-threatening obesity should be removed from their parents? Does having a severely obese child equate to abuse? Some health policy researchers believe so.

I found this recent book review on the New York Times blog  centering on how the weight and nutrition of the pregnant mother affects her children and it’s relation to the obesity/abuse debate. The book review references this article about an obese toddler taken from her parents which is a particularly sad story. In this case, the parents went to great lengths to try to understand what was going on with their daughter.  In my mind they were not responsible in any way for her weight problem and should not have shouldered the blame for a medical mystery.

The research demonstrating a link between uterine and early childhood environment and weight problems later in life creates new questions about whether the health conditions we attribute to “lifestyle choices” are truly a matter of choice.  Will placing dangerously obese children in foster care help their chance of a healthy future or has the damage already been done? What do you think?

Emily Egan

4 thoughts on “Removing Obese Children From Their Parents…Right or Wrong?

  1. Kidnapping kids from their parents is the worst thing that can be done. The key is to educate parents and their children about proper diet and exercise. If diet and exercise is not enough, underlying physiologic or genetic causes can be looked at.

  2. America could use one giant fat camp..even if that means being taken away from irresponsible mom and dad.

  3. I think it’s less about educating parents and children and more about creating a system that makes exercise and active play easier and makes junk food more difficult to obtain (i.e. ride your bike to the candy store after school rather than have the vending machine IN the school). All American children used to have things like daily recess and PE/gym class (my school district called it “kinetic wellness”…whatever) and parks could have jungle gyms without the fear of litigation. When the problem grows at this magnitude, you cannot blame the parents, there is a larger cultural shift at work here.

  4. You can restrict access as much as you want, but if people really want to eat junk, they’ll get it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a fast-food restaurant where overweight parents bring their overweight kids to binge on calorie-laden meals. The problem is in family culture. If parents care about health and wellness, their kids are also much more likely to care.

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