Child obesity is abuse?

So, your kid looks like a Twinkie and is extremely upset about the bankruptcy. You try to ease his/her fears but the only thing that cuts the crying and screaming is a Fudge Round. Can all of those Little Debbies and Hostess cakes really be so bad? See Wave 3 Story.

This article suggests that child obesity could be a form of abuse. The Kentucky Legislature has recognized that children have certain rights which shall be protected including: “the rights to adequate food, clothing and shelter; the right to be free from physical, sexual or emotional injury or exploitation; the right to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally to their potential…It is further recognized that upon some occasions, in order to protect and preserve the rights and needs of children, it is necessary to remove a child from his or her parents.” KRS 620.010. Abuse and neglect in Kentucky are seen as intentional acts. KRS 600.020 says abuse or neglect can occur when, among other examples, a person “inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or emotional injury…”. Should obesity be seen as a form of abuse or neglect and if so, under what circumstances should a child be removed from his or her parent/guardian?

If abuse or neglect is suspected a person can report it to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The Cabinet will conduct an investigation related to the allegations and meet with the parents, children, and any other people with knowledge of the case. If abuse or neglect is suspected, the Cabinet can seek an Emergency Custody Order. If an ECO is issued, a hearing must be held within 72 hours. Kentucky courts have made it clear the goal is to reunify children with their caregivers unless reunification is not in the best interests of the children. Courts do not always remove children from their caregivers homes AND suspend all parenting time/visitation. Every situation is different.

I don’t believe our statutes were created with the intention to take all of the Twinkie kids away from their parents. I do however think obesity can be detrimental to a child’s health and emotions. Thankfully there are also other routes for dealing with parenting decisions that might not be in the child’s best interest (assuming all other methods have been exhausted). A Motion can be filed to change the parenting schedule so the parent who has more time to handle the obesity can be involved more. A Motion can be filed to place the child in therapy and a Motion can be filed to request a child participate in a certain activity. A family court judge can certainly address an issue such as obesity without severing the child’s relationship with a parent.

Of course, it is always best to discuss problems such as obesity with the other parent. You can create incentives for healthy eating you can engage the Twinkie kid in some activities. Family activities not only encourage exercise but allow bonding.

Twinkies are pretty good if I do say so myself. I even understand the desire to eat sweets every day. However, I do try to counter the sugar with exercise (running, yoga, volleyball, etc) and I do try to limit the number of days I eat sweets. It is hard but I find people to support me. Twinkie kid should have support too.