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A pair of Harvard scholars writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association have a peculiar recommendation for dealing with childhood obesity: strip away custody rights from parents of extremely obese kids.

I’m certainly sympathetic to the need to protect children whose parents are failing them. But, c’mon, that’s a bit ridiculous, isn’t it? I don’t often agree with bioethicist Art Caplan, but I think he’s right on this issue:

Our laws give enormous authority to parents and rightly so. The only basis for compelling medical treatment against a parent’s wishes are if a child is at imminent risk of death — meaning days or hours — and a proven cure exists for what threatens to kill them. Obesity does not pass these requirements.

The risk of death from obesity is real, but it is way down the road for kids. There is no proven cure for obesity. The ability to treat a child with diet or a lifestyle change who does not want to be “treated” by strangers is a long shot at best. The number of kids involved — an estimated 2 million children with body-mass index above the 99th percentile — would quickly swamp already overwhelmed social service departments. And, no matter what you do with overweight children, sooner or later they are going back home where their often overweight parents will still be.

Read more . . .

(Via: Atlantic Wire )

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