Obese Kids Shouldn't Be Removed From Their Parents' Home

childhood obesity gameRecently, some intellectuals in Boston suggested that fat kids be removed from their homes and placed in foster care.Harvard professor Lindsey Murtagh and Boston Children’s Hospital child obesity specialist Dr. David Ludwig wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association “State intervention is in the best interest of children whose lives are threatened by their obesity.”

It’s hard to decide where to begin, so I’ll just jump right in.

What is wrong with our society? We outlaw tag, red rover, and dodge ball, gut physical education programs, tell parents not to let their kids play outside because they might get sun damaged or kidnapped, and then we sit around and wonder why more kids are overweight than ever before?


The authors cite several times the difficulty some parents have in controlling their children’s weight. Single mom Jerri Gray (who lost custody of her 555-pound 14-year-old son two years ago) said, "I was always working two jobs so we wouldn't end up living in ghettos." She said she didn’t have time to cook, so she would buy her son fast food.

A pound of peaches costs $1.99 at my local grocery store this week. A Big Mac costs $2.99. Call me crazy, but a 14-year-old is perfectly capable of pitching in and making dinner for mom and himself. He could be taught some basic, easy recipes over a weekend, and take pride in a new skill and in helping out his mom.

Even if the Grays stayed at McDonald’s, no one forced them to order the super-sized fries. It’s impossible to become obese eating a grilled chicken sandwich, apple slices, and low-fat milk for dinner. 

As parents, it’s our job to take care of our kids and teach them healthy habits. Sometimes people are going to fail miserably at that, but we can’t pin anti-abuse laws on every parenting decision we disagree with. Those laws protect children from violent and abusive homes, but last time I checked, obesity wasn’t a crime. Although, has anyone read Obamacare cover-to-cover? There might be some anti-obesity law in there, which would be funny, because it would totally conflict with every anti-inflammatory law on the books. Can’t be calling people fat and hurting their feelings, now can we? 

Removing obese children from their homes reminds me of a certain story about letting a camel stick his cold nose under the tent flap. Before you realize it, the whole camel is in there with you spitting and stinking up the place. Redefining abuse to include over-feeding could lead to other redefinitions as well. What if the state decides that I’m psychologically harming my children by indoctrinating them with religion? Or that their emotional well-beings are at stake because they occasionally get spanked? When does it end?

These are my kids, and I have the right to decide what they eat, how they play, where they worship, how they are educated, what they watch on TV, and anything else that falls under the parenting umbrella. I would never deny another parent the same right, no matter how much I may disagree with their choices.


Image via Arenamontanus/Flickr

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