From the National Post this morning:
The societal panic over childhood obesity, already entrenched in the medical system and evident in the furor over school lunches, is beginning to influence custody judgments and child-welfare authorities in their decisions about fitness to parent.
An Ontario family court judgment involving the Children’s Aid Society recently cited obesity as a reason for removing a child from the parental home, after determining the mother was contributing to her child’s weight gain and was oblivious to the required medical regime.
The details of the case are covered by a publication ban, but the theme is echoed in another case, an epic nine-year custody battle that wrapped up in a Newmarket courtroom last month, much of which centred on the comparative merits of the battling parents in adhering to a diet plan for their obese twins.
While I dislike government meddling in family affairs in principle, I appreciate that there are times when intervention is needed to save innocent children from harm. Incest, abuse, gross negligence being among the most obvious. I am not convinced exposing children to, say, tobacco smoke or junk food is necessarily detrimental – you can do a lot more damage to your children with emotional abuse than with second-hand smoke. I don’t know when overfeeding your children becomes abuse that requires state intervention. But I’m glad we’re getting a chance to discuss the problem, which is unfortunately all too real.