Doctors Raise Custody Question Over Very Obese Children

July 13, 2011 by staff 

Doctors Raise Custody Question Over Very Obese ChildrenDoctors Raise Custody Question Over Very Obese Children, A new controversy is shooting editorial debate on what to do with children who have become severely overweight, suggesting that some of them must be placed in foster care.

In an opinion piece in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, a specialist in obesity and its co-author discuss the ethical and legal considerations lead to severely overweight children away from their parents.

Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston and Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, writes the piece.

They say that kids are thinking that there are those who are slightly overweight. They are referring to those who are severely obese, who are about to develop health problems like type 2 diabetes or liver disease.

Some of these children may be taking in 1,000 calories a day or more above what they should, “suggesting deeply dysfunctional eating habits and activity.”

“In severe cases of childhood obesity, the removal of the house may be justifiable from a legal standpoint, due to the imminent health risks and the failure of parents to cope with chronic health problems,” they write.

Parents have the right to raise their children, as they want, the authors said. But they say there are many cases in which the State will intervene to protect a child. In cases of abuse or neglect or severe malnutrition, child welfare workers often step in.

And yet, they say, only a handful of states have ever used child abuse laws to intervene in cases of “overnutrition” and severe obesity.

“The intervention could serve the interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, including the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors,” they write.

The authors acknowledge that foster care is often not ideal and does not guarantee that children lose weight. And admit that taking children away from their families put at risk of emotional harm.

They also note that since there are about 2 million children in the U.S. who are extremely obese, the elimination of all of them to leave their homes is likely unfeasible. However, they say they take the children away from their caregivers may be more ethical alternative: putting children to obesity surgery.

“Ultimately, the government can reduce the need for this type of intervention through investments in social infrastructure and policies to improve diet and promote physical activity among children,” they conclude.

Ludwig and Murtagh are not the first to propose state intervention in cases of extremely overweight children.

In a commentary last year in the British medical journal British Medical Journal, the pediatrician Dr. Russell Viner and colleagues said that obesity was a factor in some child protection cases in Britain. They argued that child protection services should be considered if parents are negligent or actively reject efforts to control the weight of an extremely obese child.

An opinion article in Pediatrics in 2009 made similar arguments. Its authors said the temporary removal of the house would be justified “when all reasonable alternatives have been exhausted.”

They discussed a piece of 200 kg (440 lb) of 16 years who developed respiratory problems from being overweight and nearly died in a hospital of the University of Wisconsin.

The doctors discussed the possibility of informing your family for neglect. In the end they did not, because his health crisis “was a wake up call” for your family. She went on to lose about 100 pounds.

Jerri Gray, a mother of Greenville, South Carolina only lost custody of her 555 pounds (250 kg) 14-year-old son two years, told the AP that many people do not understand the challenges faced by some Families try to control the weight of their children.

“He was always working two jobs so we do not end up living in ghettos,” said Gray.

He said he often did not have time to cook, so she bought her son fast food. When asked doctors for help for your child’s appetite, was charged with negligence.

His sister has custody of the child, now 16. Gray said her sister had the money to help him with a special diet and exercise, and the child has lost over 200 pounds.

“Despite this good has come out as to what to lose weight, told me last week,” Mommy, I want to be with you so bad. “They have done damage by pulling us apart,” said Gray.

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