Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Should obese children be taken from their parents?

 

July 18, 2011



Last week an article was published in an accredited medical journal where two doctors stated that seriously obese children should be taken from their parents and placed into foster care.

I find it appalling that anyone would think that taking a child from a loving and nurturing home is the answer to solving the child obesity problem.

It is true that over two million children in America are obese and that child obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. However, other steps should be taken before ripping a child from the arms of their mother or father because the child isn’t getting enough exercise or is being fed too many high sugar and high fat foods.

I have seen first-hand the effects that a child placed in foster care can carry with them throughout their lives. Even though this person was only in the foster care system for two and a half years of his first three years of life, he still has emotional scars even 40 years later.

This child was placed in a caring foster home and adopted by a family who loved and adored him. However, even with years of therapy as a child, he still suffers today.

Dr. David Ludwig, a doctor at Harvard, was one of the writers of the article. He does state that children should only be removed from their homes in “certain, carefully selected situations,” and that it should only be as a last resort.

So what can be done before this extreme situation occurs?

First of all, medical tests should be performed to find out if genetics plays a part in the weight problem. Next parents should be trained in how to feed their children healthy snacks and ways to ensure that they don’t give into begging or whining when the kids want a sugary or less healthy food option. This is a trap that all of us, as parents, have succumbed to.

Unfortunately we live in a busy world where fast food is cheaper than healthier foods such as fruits and vegetables. Picking up a Happy Meal takes no time to prepare and only costs around $3. The bonus is that the kids also get a prize. Maybe eliminating prizes that entice kids would be a great first step.

Stopping by the grocery store takes planning and time and the bill can add up quickly. Teaching parents how to make frugal yet healthy choices at the grocery store could help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A doctor reporting for ABC World News stated that if children drink two sodas a day it contributes to 50 pounds of weight gain per year. That is an astounding statistic. This also applies to adults.

Ensuring that our kids get exercise everyday is imperative. Parents all over the country should be demanding that kids get to participate in gym class every day. We should also limit the amount of time our children sit in front of a screen, whether it is playing video games, surfing the internet or watching their favorite television shows, getting kids off the couch and outside is a great first step in encouraging children to exercise.

There are so many outside activities for kids; skateboarding, rollerblading, bike riding, jumping in the lake and swimming are all good choices for exercise. Getting kids involved in local sports can also encourage social skills while they are participating in a healthful activity. There are so many choices for team sports in Lake Stevens, there has to be something for everyone. Many leagues offer scholarships for kids who might need help covering the fees.

Before we start taking kids from their homes let’s make sure that their parents have the training they need, and that these children don’t have a medical condition that needs to be addressed. We must do all that we can to ensure healthy, happy children.

 

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