Should Parents Lose Custody of Extremely Obese Kids?
July 13, 2011
As the obesity epidemic rages on, some experts are recommending extreme measures to help deal with the issue. In a controversial opinion piece in today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Harvard-affiliated Children's Hospital Boston, argues that severely obese children should be taken away from their parents.
According to Dr. Ludwig, state intervention would involve placing a child in temporary foster care while his parents were taught about better parenting and weight loss. Removing a child from home would be used as a last resort, reserved for cases where the child has severe obesity-related conditions such Type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties and liver problems, the Associated Press reports. Rather than place the blame on parents, the goal of state intervention is to act in children’s best interests, and in some cases, it is “the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors,” Ludwig wrote.
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While Ludwig’s recommendation has left many outraged, his concept is not something new. There have already been several cases in the U.S. of parents losing custody over childhood obesity. Two years ago, South Carolina mom Jerri Gray lost custody of her 555-pound teen son. The teen was placed in his aunt’s custody, and, over the course of two years, lost more than 200 pounds. "Even though good has come out of this as far as him losing weight, he told me just last week, 'Mommy, I want to be back with you so bad.' They've done damage by pulling us apart," Gray told the AP.
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What do you think: Should parents lose custody of extremely obese kids? Or would state invention do more harm that good?