In some cases, obese children
should be removed from their homes, according to a group of child health
specialists from England and Ireland.
If parents fail to provide medical
treatment for a child with a chronic disease like asthma or epilepsy,
government welfare officials can put the young patient in foster care. Should
they do the same for children who are obese — and therefore at risk of
developing lifelong complications such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes?
In some cases, the answer is yes,
according to a group of child health specialists from England and Ireland.
“Childhood obesity can be seen as a
failure to adequately care for your children by failing to provide a healthy
diet and sufficient activity, whether through direct neglect or more subtly
through an inability to deny children the pleasures of energy dense fast food
and television viewing,” the experts write in a paper published online by the
British Medical Journal.
The question isn’t academic. There
are sporadic reports in the US of courts removing obese kids from their homes,
and it has happened at least 20 times in Britain.
The neglect that leads to obesity
may be a sign of other problems in the home. As many as one-third of obese
adults said they were sexually abused as children. In addition, one-third
report being victims of other kinds of abuse, such as corporal punishment,
according to the paper.
With this in mind, paediatricians
and other professionals should think about whether obese kids would be better
off in the custody of child protective services, the experts wrote.