I came across an interesting article earlier this week, and I'm not even sure what my opinion is regarding this matter. It has to do with weight. Weight is a touchy issue; very few of us, have never struggled with a weight issue, whether the issue was to lose weight or gain weight. At various times of my life I have been on both sides of this issue.
Let me also preface this subject by saying that I have tall, muscular, broad kids (both built like their daddy) who both tip the scales at the top of their age ranges; they also rank in the top of height percentiles, as well. In fact, at the last well-check of each Darling Boy the pediatrician explained that based on their weights alone, he was forced to check them off as "obese" for insurance purposes. This reporting is done anonymously in a large pool of all kids who have well-checks, based on specific ages.
My children are not obese for any other purpose (check out those sweet, skinny boys above & don't let the 3 year-old's pudgy cheeks fool you; he's the skinniest). I, of course, spoke up and argued this point. While my sons' pediatrician agreed with me, he told me that his hands were tied because this "mandatory" reporting is linked to insurance companies paying the doctors for their services to patients. He went on to tell me that every big, strong high school athlete he had recently seen for school physicals were also labeled as "obese" for the insurance reports.
Now, this makes me think twice when I see the reports of the high percentages of obese kids; and all of the reports, studies, groups and grants concerning this issue. At the same time, I know there are kids who are obese and who need to learn how to eat a nutritional, balanced diet and exercise on a daily basis. There are also kids who have a genetic predisposition to weight gain. And now for the story I read. Then, you can decide where you stand on this topic.
200 Pound Third Grader
This subtitle reads like a tabloid article, and you can just picture the photo running with the headline in the newsprint placed next to the bubble gum at the checkout counter, but this is sadly true. A boy in third grade weighing 200 pounds was removed from his mother's custody and placed with a foster family due to his weight related health issues. The mother had taken her son to a hospital last year when he started to have breathing problems; clearly, a concerned parent. It was determined that he has sleep apnea. At that time, the hospital enrolled him in program aimed at reducing his weight. Through that program, he was being monitored by social workers and had been losing some weight, but had recently begun to gain weight again.
When he started putting pounds on, the social workers asked a juvenile court to remove the boy from his mother's custody based on his obesity as a medical neglect issue. The boy's mother claimed that she was following the dietary guidelines provided by the hospital program and was doing her best to help her child.
Obesity as Neglect
This may seem extreme, but remember the court's duty is to do what is in a child's best interest. So, is this in the child's best interest? What if the child was severely underweight instead of grossly overweight? How would you feel about this issue then? If the child appeared to be starving, the court would remove the child in this instance too. The court must do its best to ensure that any child that comes to its attention has a clean, safe and healthy environment with adequate nutrition and direction in which to live and grow.
Clearly, this is an extreme case, but it has happened before. The article I read from ABC News cited a 90 pound 3 year old girl who was removed from her parents' home for two months due to her large size and inability to lose weight in her parent's care. She was returned to her parents when it was determined that she had a genetic predisposition and she did not lose any weight while in foster care despite following strict guidelines.
Are we going overboard on the subject of obese kids? Is obesity a legitimate cause for concern and reason to lose custody of your child, even temporarily? For me, this is hard question. How do you feel about this issue? No matter which way you view this story and others like it, it's very sad for the child and the parents involved. Over and out...