Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Should Parents Lose Custody of Obese Kids?

Again we have experts advocating the micromanagement of families by recommending that obese children should be removed from their parents (see article)  for no other reason than the child is fat. Fox News [dot]com reports:
Should parents of extremely obese children lose custody for not controlling their kids' weight? A provocative commentary in one of the nation's most distinguished medical journals argues yes, and its authors are joining a quiet chorus of advocates who say the government should be allowed to intervene in extreme cases.
These experts actually believe that removing a child from his non-abusive parents is far less damaging to him than the child being obese. Talk about denial. 
State intervention "ideally will support not just the child but the whole family, with the goal of reuniting child and family as soon as possible. That may require instruction on parenting," said Ludwig, who wrote the article with Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and a researcher at Harvard's School of Public Health.
Ideally state intervention will support the whole family? Since when is any government agency operated according to the ideals? Ideally, in all child welfare cases, the families would be allowed more than one supervised visit a week or month, and case plan that is not onerous, irrelevant and punitive, and a caseworker who isn't overworked, underpaid and making her recommendations based on a quotas rather than the best interests of the child. Hoping for the ideal administration of a child welfare case is not reasonable or rational.
"Despite the discomfort posed by state intervention, it may sometimes be necessary to protect a child," Murtagh said.
Discomfort?!!!  Forced separation from each other is much more than mere discomfort, it is sheer terror for most. Such an intervention holds the very real risk that the child will be abused in foster care, not to mention the psychological trauma caused by being torn from his parents. Then, there is the very real potential that parental rights will be terminated, presumably if the child doesn't lose the weight. These consequences are considered benign by these experts? Hello-oo? Losing your child to the state forever is far from benign.

Their proposed solution? Stranger foster care. A parent-for-pay who gets money to feed the child, money that--oh, I don't know--his biological parents could use to buy the right kind of food for him.
Ludwig said he starting thinking about the issue after a 90-pound 3-year-old girl came to his obesity clinic several years ago. Her parents had physical disabilities, little money and difficulty controlling her weight. Last year, at age 12, she weighed 400 pounds and had developed diabetes, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

"Out of medical concern, the state placed this girl in foster care, where she simply received three balanced meals a day and a snack or two and moderate physical activity," he said. After a year, she lost 130 pounds. Though she is still obese, her diabetes and apnea disappeared; she remains in foster care, he said.
A year in foster care?!!!  Because mommy and daddy were too poor to buy healthy food?

A year in foster care? Just to give a child three balanced meals and exercise? This is horrendously overreaching and intrusive, not to mention unnecessarily expensive to taxpayers.

See how easily the experts find it to redistribute other people's children willy nilly, just to forward their own personal agendas? They have no qualms about taking control where they don't belong.

These doctors want to shirk their own responsibility for their patients and pawn the problem off to the state as a feel-good solution, rather than put their money where their mouth is and provide a professional or community solution that would prevent the family from being put through the horror of state intervention.

It is obvious these experts have no concept of the hurdles faced by working poor and middle class families to provide the necessities of life, especially in this economy. Good, healthy food is expensive! Most families simply cannot afford good, healthy food. Fruit and nuts are far more expensive than chips and cookies and white bread, all of which are poor choices for anyone, much less anyone on a diet. Yet, if they spend the money on wholesome food, then there won't be nearly as much food in the house, which is often used to as grounds to remove a child from the family home. Now, even if there is enough food, if it's the wrong kind, snatch the kiddies and pay the foster care givers to feed them.

Many of the targeted families get food stamps, and cannot make ends meet without buying groceries that are heavy on the processed foods, pasta, cereals and high-fat, high-calorie, high-sugar ingredients--those oh-so-bad "fluffy white" foods that cause so many health problems. Lean meat, fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and low-fat dairy are simply not as affordable.  And the schools aren't any better than those dastardly family homes with their Federally funded cheap, high-fat, high-starch, high sugar content menus they offer for school lunches. How can the parents be held accountable for what their child eats outside of the home?

The law already has a better solution. If a child is obese and the state is considering removing the child, the agency must first provide the parents with services to prevent the child's removal, as mandated by reasonable efforts.

This means the agency must provide the family with the means to purchase the expensive low-fat, low calorie wholesome food.  They must provide a nutritionist to help the parents plan appropriate menus and a cook to teach those who don't know how to cook how to prepare the meals according to that menu. They must provide the child with an exercise program or participation in sports, and provide the transportation, access or equipment for the child to participate daily in the sports or exercise. And if they hope to succeed in slimming this child down, they must provide some sort of peer support group to help the child stay on a healthy diet and exercise program.
US Navy 100519-N-7498L-053 Children from the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Youth Sports Program at Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, participate in a 1.5-mile fun run
Only after the parents fail to insure the child eats right and exercises should the state consider removing the child, and then, only if the child is on the brink of death.

Advocating yet another reason to burden an already overburdened, underfunded, understaffed and incompetent agency with more child welfare cases is not only a heartless solution from the perspective of the child and family, it's poorly thought out, lazy and profoundly irresponsible.

Little League Size, Big League Swing by D.F. Shapinsky (pingnews) (493970671)Definitions of abuse or neglect change with the current social fads (satanic ritual abuse, shaken baby syndrome, child sex rings and other debunked past hysterias come to mind) and cannot be relied upon from one case to the next. This is just another fad. I entered foster care as a child of normal weight and height. When I left a year later, I had gained one hundred pounds. The foster care givers ate a high-fat, high-starch, high-sugar diet. They were very obese, even their children were fat.  This was deemed to be an appropriate placement at the time. Even today, foster care givers are fat, feed the foster kids cheap fluffy white food which is identical to what the child's parents fed him. Unless foster care givers are mandated to provide good, wholesome food to all foster children, this idea isn't even worthy of consideration.

Too fat, too thin, too smart, too stupid, breastfed or not breastfed, too affectionate (enmeshed) or not affectionate enough (emotionally distant), too involved in athletics or a couch potato . . . no matter what the issue, child welfare agencies can make it legal to take a child. That doctors advocate child removals  rather than providing competent medical care to help the child eat better and become more active in the family home is the height of hypocrisy.  Who better than the pediatrician to get his own patient on the right track to a healthy lifestyle?

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Leave the emotions, propaganda and rhetoric at the door. This blogger is only interested in intelligent, logical, well-thought out, factually based comments which are on-topic, indicating the writer has an open mind and a mature ability to reason.