You may have noticed in the past few weeks a flurry of news items that stemmed from an opinion piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association calling for child protective services to step in and remove obese children from their homes.
I think the childhood obesity issue has reached critical mass, so to speak. I am not sure where I stand on the issue of removing obese children from the parents who let them get that way.
On one hand, CPS can and will remove children who are failing to thrive due to neglect or who are being physically abused. I really can’t discern a difference between those scenarios and a morbidly obese child.
On the other hand, at what point is an obese child considered to be so overweight that removing the child from his or her home is in the best interest of the child? I would hate to live in fear that my child would come under scrutiny of the wrong person and be taken away from me of she happened to carry a few extra pounds.
The arguments for and against removing obese children from their homes are actually pretty compelling on both sides. Those in favor of removal state that the parents aren’t capable of raising healthy weight children, and it is in the best interest of the child to get physically healthy. Those against removal point out that many obese children have parents who work multiple jobs to try and keep a roof over their heads and have neither time nor money to prepare nutritious, healthy food. These advocates stress the importance of fixing the problem instead of causing more trauma by removing the child.
As for me, I was so fat that the doctor put me on a diet at the tender age of 3 months. This was in the way back days before canned and powdered formula. Instead of the formula all the other moms were using, I had a special Fat Girl formula. My point is that I gained too much weight as an infant and my mom took the necessary steps to correct the problem. I am glad she did. I am also glad my pediatrician didn’t have to call the authorities to have me removed from my very loving home.
My Eldest and Middlest were both consistently in the 98 percentile for weight. Then they started walking and slimmed down. I have always tried to teach them to make good choices. One of the things I did that had the most impact was give them each one cookie when I baked. Middlest would invariably ask for two cookies and I would say, “No. We’re girls. We only need one cookie.” She got to the point where she would walk up to me and say, “Can I have cookie one?” My two eldest girls still only take one cookie and walk away. Of course, they are my children and will sometimes make a few return trips to the cookie jar. But that’s okay. They have some self-control as teens and both maintain a healthy weight. Youngest is still learning her healthy choices. She does know the cookie one rule, though.
If pressed to take a stand, I am leaning toward leaving obese children in the home and focusing efforts on education of the masses and making healthy food more affordable and available. Hey, a girl can dream; can’t she?
Amy is a writer living in Hendricks County. You can read more of her work at rubymay1029.blogspot.com.