Should Parents Lose Custody of Super Obese Kids?

Uploaded by MidweekPolitics on 22.07.2011

Announcer: Welcome back to The David Pakman Show.
David: Back on The David Pakman Show. You know, people always ask me, Louis, how can
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Louis: So it's mostly books?
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Louis: Indeed.
David: Should parents lose custody of super-obese kids? There's a controversial new article
by Dr. David Ludwig, who's an obesity specialist at Harvard-affiliated Children's Hospital
in Boston. He says this is not about blaming parents, but that putting children temporarily
in foster care is in some cases more ethical than the obesity surgery that is now becoming
increasingly popular on children. What's your initial reaction to this, Louis, just based
on that?
Louis: Well, I'm thinking how do you define super-obese? I mean, is there like some type
of test that they run, like a body mass index?
David: Sure. There's many ways to define it, and I don't think defining super-obese is
the problem. I think that the question is, well, let me put it this way, University of
Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan says he worries that this debate, even having this
debate, puts too much blame on the parents, when obese children are the victims of advertising
that they aren't even aware is meant to be influencing them, marketing, peer pressure,
bullying, a lot of things that parents can't control. So therefore, are you punishing the
parents or putting too much blame on them if you start taking super-obese children and
putting them into foster care?
The thing is, the idea is not to punish anybody, the idea is to be helping the children. And
the real question is will the children be helped? Will... how many cases of diabetes
will be avoided by taking kids out of certain situations where they don't have the proper
supervision in terms of nutrition? I don't know.
Louis: Yeah, I don't think it's the worst idea I've ever heard, but I can't say it's
a good one. I think taking a child out of a perfectly functional, good, caring home
can be pretty harmful.
David: Well, the argument could be made, is it caring if it's negligence why the child
is obese? It's not malicious intent by the parents, but if it's negligence, the argument
could be made it's not really caring.
Louis: But I think that's hard to prove. I mean, it could be negligence, it could be
stupidity. It could be just incompetence.
David: Well, some people are saying this is not imminent danger for the children, so therefore,
it's not necessarily... they're not being abused physically by being punched, for example.
But the thing is, there's about 2 million U.S. kids that are what would be considered
extremely obese, and I don't know what percentage over the median weight that is, but that's
the number that is being used. They're not in imminent danger, but the risk of obesity-related
conditions like type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties, liver problems, all of these
could kill them by age 30, and these are slow-onset types of things.
So just because there is not an imminent danger, the kid could die tomorrow from being thrown
down the stairs, does that mean we should turn a blind eye because it's not the real
type of... it's not real abuse? That seems irresponsible.
Louis: So you think there should be something done?
David: I think that there needs to be some level of oversight, because for whatever reason,
obesity in children is not handled the same way as other types of conditions that are
at least in part influenced by parents' behavior that will affect children for life. I mean,
would you deny that obesity will affect some percentage of these children for their entire
Louis: No doubt.
David: So therefore, it seems irresponsible to completely ignore it, to put it outside
of those issues which we have to consider. Think about it this way: what would we say
if parents were giving their children drugs that would eventually kill them? Would we
intervene then? Why is it different if parents are giving their children a quantity of food
that will eventually kill them? Maybe it shouldn't be different.
Louis: I think taking the child out of the home should only be done in the worst of circumstances,
in the most extreme cases.
David: The argument could be made that the child obesity epidemic is an extreme case.
Conversely, let me throw this out, if a doctor is seeing the child once a year for their
checkups and realizes that this obesity problem is happening, should the doctor, could the
doctor be sued for malpractice if they don't act to get the child into a better situation?
In other words, doctors have a certain responsibility, if they believe the child is being abused,
to act, physically abused. Should they not have a similar responsibility if they realize
that they have obesity as a result of lack of discipline from the parents?
Louis: I think they should be allowed to act, and I think most good doctors would make it
clear to the parents that there's a problem, apart from reporting it to some type of service.
David: Could a doctor be sued for malpractice if they do absolutely nothing?
Louis: Only if some type of legislation were enacted that states they have to act in these
cases, right? I mean...
David: All right, well, there it is. Legal advice with producer Louis.
Louis: I assume; that's what makes sense to me.
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