Taking Severely Obese Kids from Parents as Health Insurance Rates Soar

Two American doctors wrote an opinion piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which says that states should have the ability to remove severely obese kids from their parents.  John Moore’s article “State should take obese kids from parents: US doctors” from the AFP reminds us that while this is not the specific opinion of the American Medical Association or JAMA, it may be someday.  Lindsey Murtagh and David Ludwig, doctors at the Harvard School of Public Health and Children’s Hospital in Boston, respectively, believe that removing children who are severely obese from the homes of their parents is the same as removing kids who are starving.  Health insurance rates and childhood illnesses skyrocket because of the obesity problem in the United States.  Two million kids in the US are considered severely obese and have a BMI above the 99th percentile, shocking to some but reality to many who see these kids every day at school or in the neighborhood.

Both doctors argue that the parents of these severely obese kids are neglecting their health risks and medical problems.  The children are likely to develop lifelong conditions like Type 2 Diabetes and other ailments that will be nearly impossible for them to overcome.  While states already have laws protecting kids from starvation or undernourishment, only a few states have laws protecting them from overfeeding and severe obesity.  California, Iowa, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico do have a legal precedent on the books.  This debate is likely to interest some insurance companies like Aultcare who spend billions of dollars a year on obesity related ailments.  While these doctors believe that a temporary home in foster care can help children learn healthy eating and exercise habits and lose excess weight without the risks of bariatric surgery, it is wise to look into other alternatives first.  Educating the parents should really be the number one priority and they should at least have some kind of a warning and help before their kids are taken into foster care.  Severely obese kids do need help, but their parents likely do as well.

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