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07/13/2011

Is Child Obesity A Form of Child Abuse?

As Art Caplan states in his most recent MSNBC column, childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Whether the result of the food industry, food marketing to children, or lifestyle choices, children (as well as their parents) are getting fat at an alarming rate.

But who is responsible for this tidal wave of obese children, really? It’s hard not to claim that parents, who are the providers of sustenance and the environment in which children learn about healthy (or unhealthy) eating, hold some of the responsibility for overweight and obese children. But when does that responsibility or the abdication of it cross over into true child abuse? Can there ever be justification for removing a child from his/her parents because he/she is obese?

Caplan clearly argues that the answers to these questions are “No.” But clearly in many states the jury is still out–and in some the verdict is in. Overweight and obesity can be a basis in many states for custody changes.

So where do you stand on this debate? To learn more, read Caplan’s article here and decide for yourself.

Summer Johnson McGee, PhD

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