Even if you are as perfect as a parent can be, if your children are severely obese they should be taken away, opines a new commentary.
The controversial piece, published in the reputable Journal of the American Medical Association, states that in extreme childhood obesity situations parents should lose their parenting rights.
The piece is written by Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Children's Hospital Boston, and Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and a researcher at Harvard's School of Public Health. They contend that severely obese children would be better suited in foster care or other options, rather than remain with the parents.
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, the piece states.
One of the most interesting points that the piece brings up is the state's willingness to take undernourished children out of homes. States around the country have been willing to remove a child out of a home for being undernourished, but as the study points out, very rarely does the same for an over nourished child.
The authors suggest that states should be more willing to take the child out of the home, especially if all other possible methods to reverse the obesity have been tried and failed.
State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, comprising the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors, they wrote.
The thinking behind the piece is that by removing the child from the home, it might be able to stave off Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea or surgical procedures. The piece suggests for child services to check up on the child and living situation, and to remove the child if the situation is untenable.
But the authors do acknowledge that removal might not even work and could cause emotional damage. This is why the removal should be short-term and not long-term, according to the authors. The hope is that new dietary and exercise techniques could be instilled on the child and that the child could get back track to a healthy life.
This piece suggests looking at a 2009 Pediatric article that encourages similar measures to fight childhood obesity. The article says that children should be removed from the home if: there is a high likeilihood that serious harm will occur, a reasonable likelihood that coercive state intervention will result in effective treatment, and the absence of alternative options for addressing the problem.
There are 12.5 million obese children in the United States, which accounts for about 17 percent of all children. Out of that 12.5 million, approximately two million children suffer from severe childhood obesity. It's that two million number that the authors are most worried about.