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Government to take Obese Children from their Parents?

Posted by FactReal on July 14, 2011

A lawyer and a doctor have written an article in the latest issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)1 pushing the idea for government to remove obese kids from their homes and place them in foster care.

Lindsey Murtagh of the Harvard School of Public Health and David Ludwig of Children’s Hospital in Boston recommend using laws governing child abuse and neglect to give power to government staff to pull obese kids away from their parents.

They claim that this is “the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors.” These elitists will find any justification for any program that advances their Big-Government cause.

Instapundit writes:
  AMA JOURNAL: Take Fat Kids Away From Their Parents, Force Them To Lose Weight. “This is ludicrous–the foster system is already overstretched without adding obesity to the catalogue of child abuse and neglect. It’s also kind of creepy–the sort of thing that gives paternalism a very, very bad name.” Just because the government is failing at existing responsibilities is no reason not to give it more power! And kind of creepy? This is tar-and-feathers creepy. Your children belong to the state!

Given higher obesity rates in poor and minority communities, this is also clearly a racist suggestion. The authors, and the American Medical Association, should be ashamed on multiple levels. . . .

● The law does not consider obesity to be child abuse or neglect:

The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse and neglect2 as “an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” (U.S. Law: 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g(2) (2003))

An obese child is not at imminent risk of serious harm or death. Thus, government does not have the excuse to take away an overweight child from his parents…not yet. But would a legislator push to change that law?

● Obesity is not the major cause of death among children:
According to the Obama’s own CDC3, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. One out of four deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years involved a drunk driver. Drowning4 is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

Based on those statistics, would other Harvard “doctors” also call for the removal of cars, liquor and pools from homes to “protect” OUR children?

1. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), State Intervention in Life-Threatening Childhood Obesity, by Lindsey Murtagh, JD, MPH; David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD; July 13, 2011, Vol 306, No. 2, pp 206-207

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Children’s Bureau,

3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention,
http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/childpas.htm, http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcaus10.html

4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

5. Statistics – Top 10 Causes (2005 data)


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