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Taking Away Fat Kids

Guest Author - Moe Wood

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a "commentary" by Lindsey Murtagh, JD, MPH and David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD titled, State Intervention in Life-Threatening Childhood Obesity where basically it recommends that obese children be taken away from their parents in extreme circumstances. Many women in the fatosphere are saddened and angered that educated people in the medical profession would actually make such a suggestion as categorizing obese children as "abused" and even remotely suggesting that they be taken away from their parents.

My biggest complaint about such behaviour is that it would take away from the numerous children who are already being truly abused, you know the ones who are battered and sexually assaulted and fear for their lives. The ones who are lost in the systems and the ones that the system is already too overwhelmed to handle. Can you imagine how many more bruised and violated children would go untreated because social workers were instructed to work on cases where obesity was an issue?

The writer(s) state: "Child protective services typically provide intermediate options such as in-home social supports, parenting training, counseling, and financial assistance, that may address underlying problems without resorting to removal. These less burdensome forms of legal intervention may be sufficient and therefore preferable in many cases. In some instances, support services may be insufficient to prevent severe harm, leaving foster care or bariatric surgery as the only alternatives." In some instances? How about in all? Where would the money come from to fund what is already a financially strapped service. They have really failed to recognize the financial toll this would have on the state and the detriment to abused children the system was designed for.

And then there is the further stigma that the child would have to live through... kids talk afterall. Abused girl asks, "Why were you taken from your home?" Fat girl responds, because I'm fat." The whole scenario would put more emotional strain on the children who would probably not have the emotional support they would need to overcome the trauma because of an all ready strapped system.

I find the whole article purposefully confusing and back tracking. The author finally concludes that, "Ultimately, government can reduce the need for such interventions through investments in the social infrastructure and policies to improve diet and promote physical activity among children."

I agree, more money needs to be focused on improving diet and promoting physical health. This should come before any program gets instituted to take away any child because she or he is obese (how long would it be until it included overweight children). But it has to be directed at all children and not for the purpose of preventing overweight and obese kids. I really hate when the focus is put on fat kids -- there needs to be a shift that includes all kids. Centering out fat kids is a perfect recipe for making them reclusive and non-active. All kids should be encouraged and shown how to eat well AND taught how to be active together, not segregated by body type or from their parents.

* Read the JAMA commentary.

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario, Canada. She has been a content writer for ten years and a blogger for six. If you are going to find this eclectic reader and writer anywhere it is probably at her computer.

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