Local Experts Propose That Parents Should Lose Custody Of Super Obese Kids

By Christina Hager, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Some local anti-obesity advocates are proposing a controversial solution for overweight children. They want to take some “extremely obese” children away from their parents, and place them in foster homes.

Children’s Hospital obesity expert, Dr. David Ludwig, proposed the idea in an editorial along with Lindsey Murtagh, an attorney with Harvard’s School of Public Health.

“Despite the discomfort posed by state intervention, it may sometimes be necessary to protect a child.”

Their opinion was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports.

Ludwig says he got the idea when he met a 3-year-old who was 90 pounds. By the time she was 12, she was 400 pounds. When the state placed her in foster care, she was put on a diet of three square meals and lost 130 pounds.

Other experts agree the issue is more serious than most people realize.

Related: Mass. Set To Pass Strictest-In-Nation School Nutrition Rules

“Over a long period of time, high blood pressure can affect your heart, the small blood vessels in your eyes, your brain and your kidneys, and it really can be quite serious,” says Massachusetts medical Society dietitian Denise Rollinson.

At the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, the proposal had parents talking.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

“I definitely believe the government has to step in and do something,” says mom Rachel Nicholls.

“I don’t believe it’s strictly a parental issue,” says father Victor Acosta. “It’s a social one, and as Americans we bear a great responsibility for what we put on TV and on the internet, and what they see and what we direct them toward.”

More from Christina Hager
  • http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/07/12/should-parents-lose-custody-of-super-obese-kids/ Should Parents Lose Custody Of Super Obese Kids? « CBS Boston

    […] 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 […]

  • Frank Davis

    They want to take kids away for being fat? They want to take kids away from smokers? You name a vice or problem people have or afflict on others and “authorities” want to come in and take the kids away. We are reaching a point now where any child born will become a ward of the State because someone can’t “take care of them properly”. I’ve seen some & met some of the people who make this judgement and most to almost all of them have no experience with children but they are “experts” on caring for a child. Whatever happened to a family taking care of itself? Not anymore! Strangers can come in and destroy said family because they feel they know better than the family itself.

    • Rosen

      Taking care doesn’t mean letting the kids get obese. A pediatrician can confirm if the parents tried to address the issue or neglected it. If the child is obese and the parents did not ask for advice from a doctor, the parents should receive a warning, along with support, and if that doesn’t work, the child should be taken from the family. Loving your children doesn’t mean giving them everything they want. A parent’s responsibility is to do what’s best for them.

      • garrut

        And that state always knows what is best for everyone or so they think.

    • Susan M


    • jim

      Yes, and if you let your three yr-old weigh 90 lbs. you obviously can’t take care of them. If that same 3yr old weighs 400 lbs at age 12, you are neglectful.

      • Susan M

        Probably. But is foster care better for a child? Not usually. It is a NASTY system that destroys lives. While there are many fine foster parents, the system as a whole is broken and corrupt. More kids are hurt than helped. It is easier to educate parents and get the child help than to rip them out of their otherwise loving family and ruin their lives.

    • AJ

      I agree with you Frank!

  • WildWilly

    As I recall, there was a case where the authorities removed an obese child from the parents because of obesity only to discover that it was a genetic problem that had nothing to do with the parents behavior. OOOPS!

    • Lori

      My nephew is obese but has mental issues (autism/PDD-NOS… among other things) and is on medication. SO, not only does his issues make him gain weight his medication precludes him from losing the weight. I do NOT agree with state involvment (there is WAY too much already) BUT IF they are going to do something like this then they should investigate FIRST BEFORE they take kids away from their home.

  • guest

    yeah that will help, not. I think it is time the government stayed out of our homes. Maybe if the prices of food went down parents could afford to feed the kids healthy foods.

    • Lori

      I do NOT agree with the base idea of this article. However, I also think the argument of healthy food not being affordable is hogwash. Organic food is not affordable. I KNOW fresh fruits & veggies are better then canned or frozen but there is nothing wrong with them either; They are still healthy. There is nothing to stop a parent from giving their child canned or frozen veggies & fruits.

  • http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/07/13/mass-expected-to-approve-strict-new-school-nutrition-standards/ Mass. Expected To Approve Strict New School Nutrition Standards « CBS Boston

    […] The proposed regulations ban sugared drinks and foods made with artificial sweeteners and require schools to provide nutritional information. They also limit the amount of fats and salt allowed in foods. Related: Local Experts Propose That Parents Should Lose Custody Of Super Obese Kids […]

  • Concerned

    As much as I’d like to support that idea, it is extremely flawed and a huge breach of our rights. You could say that a parent is being abusive by feeding a child to the point of morbid obesity, but often times there are many issues in a family that causes it to get that way: genetic issues, poverty (the cheap food is high in fat), psychological issues (addiction to food), etc.

    Those problems are NOT solved by putting a child into an already overloaded foster care system. In a perfect world, yes, that child would go to a loving rich home. That child would be raised well and lead a wonderful life. That is not real life!

    Sending a child into foster care only guarantees two things: the child will be traumatized that they were taken from their parents (and maybe blame themselves), and that doctors, police officers, and teachers will have to start weighing children and sending home threatening letters and become an awful society.

  • Willow

    I don’t thing removing the child from their parents and home is the answer, but obesity in this country is a serious problem and will be the largest drain on our healthcare system because of all the diseases associated with obesity. I think that doctors need to work more closely with parents and perhaps education with a nutritionist would be in order. I think many parents just don’t know how to eat healthy themselves and pass this on to their children. Also, it’s expensive to eat healthy, and many low income families are doing what they can to just get by and feed their families, period. There are many factors to consider in the obesity problem and each one needs to be addressed individually with families affect with this problem.

  • garrut

    Is the state doing all that great a job taking care of the children that they already have in the foster care system? Especially with the current financial situation.

  • hojo

    Why not carry it a step further and have the government take complete control of creating and raising humans as Huxley described in his novel “Brave New World”. When the self-proclaimed experts and bureaucrats can demonstrate they can function without [expletive deleted]ing up just about everything they touch, then they may qualify to tell us how to live. If the “state” wants to help combat the obesity epidemic, let them include more dietary education in the curricula from day one in school.
    How about we ship all the “experts” off into space somewhere?

  • emom

    Raising children is tough enough, But for some being able to afford healthy foods is extremely difficult,, Fruits and vegetables along are expensive,, if only we could grow most of it then it would be a huge savings and be plentiful. I wonder where the majority of obese children and adults live,, city, suburbs, country… I see so many in the city and fare less in the country.. I grew up in both areas most of my life,, Had access to both healthy foods and foods not so healthy.. I was active growing up and sure eat those not so good items .. I was not obese growing up, But I was not skinny either .. But was healthy. Yes weight issues can be from many problems, Medical being a wide spread problem… From medication to an imbalance in your body. Thyroid problems cause weight issues. And then there is those that are just over eaters compelled to eat all the time and depression is a huge factor with that… But to say the government will simply rip a child out of their family environment and say your parents are the reason your over weight is just wrong… Education is key and some folks just need more than others. I have seen a cycle , when you have a parent that is over weight and their children are also over weight there is a good chance that they will have children that will be overweight. I have seen 4 generations of overweight folks, its sad when its so preventable. But for so many its what they eat… If the government is set in what they want to do , Might I suggest to legislate the cost of HEALTHY FOODS, making them as affordable if not more affordable that JUNK FOODS… If a burger is bad for you and turkey burger is better for you but cost almost twice as much how can they afford it… If fresh is better then make it the same price as their canned version. Whole wheat is more expensive than white , pasta is good if you are a runner but not so good if you are inactive. To much carbs … and proteins are key in your diet But hotdogs and cold cuts are tastier and cheaper ….. Change the cost to benefit all and obesity will change dramatically,.

  • Susan M

    OPINION: Before we start ripping kids from their families, we need to take a close look at the foster care and CPS (Child Protective Services) system, and at the reason kids are getting fat to begin with.

    FACT: Since it was introduced to the market, High Fructose Corn Syrup has been added to virtually all foods that would normally contain sugar, including bread. While HFCS starts out as a natural product taken from corn, it is then chemically altered. Our bodies process it as a poison. It tricks your body into thinking it is not full, so you keep eating. It is no wonder that kids are getting fatter and diabetes is through the roof.

    Our own government subsidizes corn and taxes sugar, so it is much cheaper for food manufacturers to use HFCS.

    OPINION: How dare our government point fingers while it goes out of its way to poison our foods? Is there any doubt that money is changing hands to make this possible?

    FACT: Child Protective Services and foster care is a broken and corrupt system. While there are many fine foster parents, more kids are hurt than helped. Many foster children are routinely and unnecessarily put on psychotropic drugs. They are more likely to be abused and neglected than they otherwise would. They are more likely to fail in life. It is a money making system for individual states and for foster parent. The states get Federal funding, especially if they can define a child as “special needs”, and foster parents receive more money as well.

    OPINION: Before we start ripping kids from their otherwise loving families to put them into this trash heap known as CPS, we need to fix the system. Giving a family help and education is easier and more sensible that destroying the children’s lives. We owe it to our future generations to fix CPS before any more kids are ruined.

    • Mrs. Z.

      I agree wholeheartedly! I share your opinion on our government poisoning our foods to better their wallets.

      Our system is backwards with having junk food so readily available and easily affordable and fruits, veggies, and non process organic food so much more expensive. But there is no room for the government to profit from wholesome food…. the money for them lies with the chemically/genetically altered food.

      I do not think that government should be able to take a child away simply because they are obese.

  • Retromary

    Taking a child out of its home only teaches the child one thing. They are being punished! This will cause the child to eat even more poorly than before. A nutrition program should be set up for the parents to educate them on proper food diet and the whole family will benefit. Plus, since good foods cost more, they should be given additional funding to pay for the food. Starchy and fatty foods are cheaper and that is why long income families buy it. I would NEVER allow anyone to remove my child from my home for ANY reason and I believe violence will be the order of the day if the state trys it. The government is too intrusive in our lives as it is and it doesn’t need to get worse. Government GO AWAY! Leave us alone unless you are going to help in a common sense way. So far this state has only proven to me that it is the worse state in the country as far as common sense goes. This state has NONE!

  • Steve

    Although I don’t agree with this, I do believe something has to be done. You are not doing your job as a parent if you allow your 3 year old child to weigh 90lbs. I also do not believe in the last statement of the article that “it’s a social problem”. No it’s not, it’s you job as a parent to protect your child, from both physical harm and emotional harm. Physical harm is not limited to someone else inflicting harm on your child but the harm they are doing to themselves by over eating. I was a candy addict when I was young. But my parents played an active role in controlling how much candy I ate because they did not want to see my teeth rot out of my mouth. That is parenting. I don’t know what the solution for this serious and growing problem is, perhaps at a certain point the state should be appointing a nutritionist to work with the family? Counseling? In most of these cases the parents are over weight too, maybe a dietitian to work with the family would help them all, not just the child? The child is learning from the parents; don’t blame the TV/media/society. If you child has already had a healthy portion to eat, you as a parent have a right and responsibility to step in and tell the child they have had enough to eat and can wait for the next meal. Or if they want a snack, have better judgment of what they get. Don’t give them cookies or sugary snacks. There are plenty of healthy snacks out there. Foremost, as an adult and a parent, set a good example for you child.

  • Sal Alford

    I totally don’t agree with the local expert that are trying to pass the law parents lose custody of super obese kids. The government have not fixing the DCF and Juvenile court system in the America of destroying the family value. When the law passed about child protection about thirty year ago. The family value gone from good to very bad. They allowed bad behavior kid to make all kind of allegation against their parents. The DCF expending building, staff and branch out like a business from counseling and lot of agencies that so called saving child. The system assigned more than two lawyers per cast during long wasting tax payer money. The bad behavior kids, do drug, bully, disobey, stubborn and stealing. The parents trying to discipline the bad behavior child, but the kid know the system protecting them. So the bad behavior child could careless what the parents or the teacher saying thing. One the DCF remove the child out, the DCF place them with other foster care(the care taker that take money from the DCF) The DCF never support the parents to discipline the bad behavior child instead remove the child out from home. I have seen their a lot of drug distributor, gangster using these bad behavior child to sell or breaking the laws for them in exchange of money or place to stay. Did the government ever have case study on the bad behavior child from start of home to their adult life and how it affecting their family. Did DCF ever admit that most of the child now are lying about their false accusation just to their parents. About the news Laws of Child obese is just another DCF and Juvenile court system trick to make sound and look good about the children. This is another dirty system of corruption to kill American culture and family value.

  • web

    Knee jerk simple reaction (take kids away from parents) to a simple problem (obese kids)…and yes, bottom line it is a simple problem. We eat too much. Period. All of us. And it has trickled down to our kids. Why we eat too much, or too much of this not enough of that are all details…but bottomline..we eat too much….simple. so answer: eat less.

  • web

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t want to pay for your state provided nutrionists or gym membership, etc., I haven’t gone to a nutrionist because of the copays, so I don’t want to pay for yours with higher taxes…just stop eating so much and stop stuffing your kids faces. Commenters are suggesting counseling, nutrionists, who do they think is going to pay???? me and others who are working, that’s who. no thanks.

    • Susan M

      I understand your frustration. However, simple programs are much less costly than these huge government bureaucracies like CPS and foster care adopting out your kids and paying others to care for them.

  • web

    One more comment…some suggest certain foods over others. Well the govt is always changing what they consider ‘good vs bad’ food…one day turkey burgers are good, next day they’re not..so I don’t listen, but look how complicated any govt intervention can get. they can’t make up their own minds, but yet might consider taking kids….seriously?

  • http://sosmass.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/theyre-coming-for-your-kids-next/ They’re coming for your kids next | SOSMass

    […] standards that some say are among the toughest in the country.  Concurrently, discussions by some local experts propose that parents should lose custody of their obese kids, putting them in Foster Care.  Statistically kids are more likely to be sexually and physically […]

  • HooDatIS?

    if your kid is fat its the states right to lock them awayin a facility and starve them skinny while uthe parent suffers, the republicans love to see us suffer
    they can do that

  • jaygee

    Perhaps the state could then take kids away from a parent who has five kids, all with different last names but no live-in “father”. Then they can take them away from parents whose kids are roaming the streets after midnight with handguns or dope in their pockets. Has anyone noticed the girth on the Mayor of Boston or some of the police & fire personnel who are headed down heart attack highway. Give me a break, the last time I checked, 1984 was 27 years ago.

    • carlos nice

      those aren’t kids, they’re pay checks. Liberals love those kids, just not fat kids.

  • carlos nice

    Its only a matter of time before one of these parents shoots a CPS worker for taking their kid for a bogus reason like this….and they’d be right for defending their family. God damn, this country is full system sucking, nanny state loving idiots.

  • JimDad77

    The problem is that these so called “experts” treat obesity as a disease. It’s not. I’m sitting here at Mcdonalds right now typing this with greasy fingers. Nobody has a gun to my head forcing me to eat fries. Obesity is a character flaw and if you are going to start taking kids away for character flaws, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. Smokers, druggies, drunks, people on anxiety meds. How about all of idiot moms and dads on TLC…that channel is chock full of shows with unfit parents. Lets take the kids away from teen moms too. And lets not EVEN get into the families with controversial religious beliefs. Actually those kids would probably be safe from the state because religion is still one place where government fears to.tread. It’s real simple, it comes down to personal accountability and good parenting. Good healthy food is still not that hard to find. We’ve become a society of self enabling pity party throwing layabouts that can’t focus long enough on anything to do it well.

  • Randy

    Why do they waste time? Start at the hospital when there born. You have to pick a number between 1 and 10 to take your own child home. It would be a more logical approach. Or spin the wheel of babys. DCF is a joke!

    I have seen clear abuses of power within the DCF System countless times.
    There are so many reported cases of these events that DCF is out of control and now they have come up with another way to take our children.

    “Absolute POWER corrupts absolutely”

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Show
Download Weather App

Listen Live