Should Obese Kids be Placed in Foster Care?

Under certain circumstances, American government welfare officials can put children in foster care to avoid serious health effects if their parents do not care about the medical treatment for the child. But are parents considered to be neglectful or abusive, if their kids are obese?

According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association by David Ludwig, an obesity doctor at Children’s Hospital Boston, and by lawyer Lindsey Murtagh, a researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health, the answer is yes. Children who are extremely obese and in dangerously poor health should be placed in temporary foster care to protect children suffering obesity-related health problems.

It is being argued in the article, that a removal from the home may be justifiable from a legal standpoint if the obesity causes medical problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes and the parents fail to provide a healthy diet or a sufficient activity, because in such cases they breach their parental obligations. A doctor is required to report children when they are for example severely underweight, so why not also when they severely overweight, the authors commented.

Although intervention seems to help in some cases children to loose weight, many experts oppose this controversial measure. They refer to many possible provisions that can be done before taking youngsters away from their parents. In most cases, authorities do not understand the challenges families may face in trying to control their kids’ weight, they said. They also point to the damages that might be caused by tearing parents and children apart.

We will keep you posted on how this issue develops.

(c) Picture: Grant Cochrane –

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