Two prominent doctors are advocating a law that would require states to remove obese children from their parents.
Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity expert at Children's Hospital Boston and Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and researcher at Harvard's School of Public Health wrote in an editorial that removing an obese child from his home should be legal in some cases. The
State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, comprising the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors, the co-authors wrote in a piece to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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 and Murtagh aren't talking about any regular obese child, but rather ones with a severe issue. They are talking about the two million children in the United States that have a body mass index at or above the 99th percentile.
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The doctors point out that every state has a law that government authorities can step in when a child is being starved or neglected but only a handful have anything regarding overnourishment and severe obesity. Those states include California, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Although removal of the child from the home can cause families great emotional pain, this option lacks the physical risks of bariatric surgery, the doctors wrote.
The Journal of the American Medical Association issued a statement following the release of the article saying the opinions of the doctors were not of the organization.
A recent report talked about the country's growing obesity problem. The study, from Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), says adult obesity increased in 16 states. It didn't decline in any states. The report, called F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011, said 12 states have an obesity rate over 30 percent. Four years ago, only one state had obesity over 30 percent.
Today, the state with the lowest obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995, Jeff Levi, Ph.D., and executive director of TFAH, said in a statement. There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last twenty years, and we can't afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health care spending.
First Lady Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity one of her own personal issues. Here Let's Move campaign is aimed at getting more kids outside and eating healthier. Recent reports from the Center for Disease Control said one out of every six American children are obese.