State Intervention in Cases of Childhood Obesity
The case of an 8-year-old Ohio boy taken from his mother’s home because he weighs more than 200 pounds has renewed a legal and social debate of whether parents should lose custody if a child is severely obese. As reported by many news sources, the boy was placed in foster care in October after case workers said his mother was not doing enough to control his weight, risking development of diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure. According to government growth charts, most 8-year-old boys weigh about 60 pounds.
Approximately 12.5 million U.S. children and teens are obese, and Alabama is the second most obese state in the nation after Mississippi. One analysis asserts that Alabama may surpass Mississippi as the most obese state within two years. According to experts, one way to combat the obesity problem is to start the fight sooner by targeting obesity in children, which essentially means taking issue with parents. Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity expert at Children’s Hospital Boston argued in an opinion piece ran by the American Medical Association, “State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, comprising the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors.”
As reported by the Associated Press, Ludwig described a case in which a 12-year-old girl weighing 400 pounds, and suffering from diabetes, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea, was placed in foster care upon state intervention. After a year of receiving three meals a day, a snack or two, and moderate physical activity, she lost 130 pounds and her diabetes and apnea disappeared.
Loss of child custody is a devastating prospect for most parents, but in light of these cases, loss of custody is a distinct possibility if a child’s life is in danger because of extreme obesity.
Seek Experienced, Compassionate Family Law Counsel
If you have a child custody concern or are involved in a child custody dispute, please contact Lana Hawkins, Attorney at Law, at The Hawkins Law Firm, for advice and representation from an experienced Alabama family law attorney.