Jun 29, 2012
TomAto, TomatOh! Should Obese Children Be Removed From Their Home?
By Mama G. LeDish
Is it more ethical to place extremely obese children temporarily in foster care than to perform surgery? That’s the question obesity experts are debating as of late. While I cannot imagine a scenario where an obese child’s best interest is served by removing them from their home, I recognize no complex problem has ever been solved without intense public discourse. The childhood obesity epidemic is no exception—we need to debate every possible solution—even if that’s to rule some ideas out.
The controversy began when an article titled, State Intervention in Life-Threatening Childhood Obesity, appeared in the July 6, 2011 Issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It was authored by Dr. David S. Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital Boston, and Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and a researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health. They argued there are circumstances where a child’s obesity put their health at such risk that removing the child from their home is a better alternative than surgery.
As much as I dislike their proposed solution, it’s fair to point out three things:
- It has sparked a national conversation about how to address the childhood obesity epidemic, a necessary part of any successful social change. We all have to ask ourselves some difficult questions about how we might contribute to the problem;
- The suggestion is coming from professionals who see this problem day-in and day out. They have likely seen cases where parents do not change their behavior even after being made aware of how it is damaging their child’s health. I’m sure there are cases where surgery was not successful because children returned home and returned to the same condition. And to be fair, surgery always carries with it the risk of death so a doctor is trained to use surgery as a last resort under all circumstances; and
- They did not suggest it as a blanket solution, but an option limited to the most extreme cases.
While there are examples of success of removing super obese children from their home to reduce them to a healthier weight, many feel the potential emotional damage created in that scenario far outweighs any health benefit of weight loss.
What’s the answer? I don’t claim to know, but the growing childhood obesity epidemic demands we as parents and caregivers start asking ourselves what we can do to turn it around. Educating ourselves and our children seems to be the most logical starting point.
TomAto: The State Should Intervene in Cases of Life-Threatening Obesity
The full text of the article by Ludwig and Murtagh is not available without a subscription to JAMA. However, AP Medical Writer, Lindsay Tanner, did a great job summarizing their case, sharing some examples of success using the technique, and locating experts on both sides of the issue.
TomatOh! The State Should NOT Remove Obese Children From Their Home
I usually highlight professional opinion published on the web, but the opinions voiced in this piece come from many different vantage points and I felt they are every bit worthy of consideration. It was published on NBC affiliate wbaltv.com’s “Water Cooler Question” on July 14, 2011.
NOTE: The opinions expressed by the bloggers on Mama LeDish are theirs alone and do not represent the opinions of Fifi Delish Holding (or its subsidiaries), affiliates, sponsors. We do not claim to be experts who claim to have all the answers, we’re just sorting through these issues just like everyone else. Fifi Delish Holding and its subsidiaries are not not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the bloggers or the content we share from the web.