Some weeks it really seems that the world has gone completely mad. A child in Ohio has been removed from the care of his parents due to being obese. According to reports on yahoo news the eight-year child weighed 200 pounds and his mother has been charged with endangering her sons health!
Earlier this year an opinion piece published in the Journal of the American Medical association suggested that placing children in foster care was more ethical than obesity surgery. According to co-author Lindsey Murtagh (from Harvard’s School of Public Health) “Despite the discomfort posed by state intervention, it may be sometimes necessary to protect a child”.
The weight of children is also being dragged through divorce courts. The Wall Street Journal reported that “…mothers and fathers in custody battles are increasingly hurling accusations at each other about the nutrition and obesity of their children, largely in attempts to persuade judges that their kids are getting less than optimal care in the hands of ex spouses”.
Fortunately not everyone agrees with this social engineering nonsense. Lawyer Lauren Johnson nailed the problem in an article on her site; “It is a cynical and culturally insensitive system that imposes a social worker’s, or any other highly educated, middle-class professional’s, personal values on families and calls anything else child abuse or neglect.”
Lets get back to basics. It is not healthy for children to be grossly overweight. And it is primarily the responsibility of parents to provide food for their children. If there is a role for the state it is long before an eight year old weighs 200 pounds. The kid did not double in size overnight. What, if anything has been done previously? Whilst economic issues do play a role here, the sheer volume of food that needs to be consumed to reach that sort of weight means there is enough money to buy healthier food. Did any social workers suggest this or enroll the parent in a nutrition class or even just go to the mall with the parents to help with shopping?
And the question of whether removal of a child is more ethical than surgery is a ridiculous question. These are not the only two options!
Removing a child from parents creates a whole new set of problems. Indeed a child who is severely obese will have emotional problems. Removing them from parents and family will add to those problems. A child of eight will feel it is their fault that mummy and or daddy have been taken away and will probably want to eat more as comfort.
As for using the weight of a child in a custody battle – both parties should be absolutely ashamed of themselves!
Childhood obesity is a problem and there are solutions. Simple things like eating at a table, making sure a child gets enough sleep and putting some barriers around TV and screen time reduce childhood obesity by 40%. Is it beyond a state that can remove a child from a family to assist with some simple measures? This is before we even get into changing eating patterns and encouraging physical activity.
Or is there another agenda here. Pontificating public health officials are always seeking more” funding” for their beloved “programs” or bleating about the evils of fast food advertisements. This makes it look like something is being done when in fact nothing is being done.
Simple practical assistance and information is not expensive or difficult. It does require people to be active on the ground rather than ensconced in ivory towers.
The health of children is important. Far too important to be a pawn in custody battles or to be left to social workers and sanctimonious public health officials.