A recent commentary entitled, “State Intervention in Life-Threatening Childhood Obesity” was printed in the The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). I was shocked when I read this commentary! How we go from “oh obesity is a problem” to “holy s***…we need to put children in foster care to protect their health and well-being.” The article stated that,
Ubiquitous junk food marketing, lack of opportunities for physically active recreation, and other aspects of modern society promote unhealthful lifestyles in children. Inadequate or unskilled parental supervision can leave children vulnerable to these obesigenic environmental influences.”
I do understand that parents need to be good role models for their children and teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle; but shouldn’t education be the first step? Is it really fair to say that these parents are neglecting their children?
Federal law, which establishes a minimum standard for states, defines child abuse and neglect as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm . . . or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
It is scary that the number of children affected with childhood obesity continues to increase. Below is a map of the 2007 Rates of Overweight and Obese Children.
The argument given in the article for placing these children in foster care was that it would be a healthier alternative than having them placed in pediatric surgical weight loss programs.
At this point, I don’t know what is the right solution! I can tell you that parents have said to me, “we did this” during nutrition counseling sessions and mentioned that they wanted to change for their children and help them live a healthier lifestyles. Because of these moments, I believe we should let parents try to make positive behavior changes before splitting up their families.
What do you think? Should obese children be placed in foster care?