Vote: Should Extreme Childhood Obesity Be Grounds For Losing Your Kids?

Thursday, July 14th 2011, 5:27 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma tips the scales when it comes to childhood obesity, leading the nation with more than 31 percent of Oklahoma children considered obese. Two Harvard researchers say in some extreme cases, obesity should be considered child neglect - and the state should take action.

This isn't just academic theory. It's happened before, making headlines in Scotland. According to the U.K.'s Sky News, a couple lost custody of their seven children, including a newborn, because the children were overweight.

Reportedly, one of the couple's sons is a 13 year old, who weighed 225 pounds.

"My first response was 'wow, that is extreme,'" said Connie Bendel, a registered dietician.

Researchers say state intervention is extreme and only should be considered as a last resort, for those children whose lives are actually in danger because of their weight.

Connie Bendel is with Nutrition Consultants of Tulsa and works with families battling obesity. She says taking kids away may do more harm than good.

"I think the emotional damage to the child will most likely contribute to their eating problems," Bendel said.

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Bendel does agree that parents are and should be responsible for their kids' eating habits.

"One of the top reasons we have overweight children is because the parents are giving them too much power," she said.

She says parents complaining of picky eaters need to take the power back and not give in to children who pass on veggies and other nutritious items.

"Everyone wants the best for their kids; sometimes we just need a little guidance to get there," said Connie Bendel, a registered dietician with Nutrition Consultants of Tulsa.

"I don't think that taking their children away from them is the answer. I think that parents will do as much as they can to get their kids healthy. Sometimes they just need a little guidance."

So is it happening in Oklahoma?

I checked with the Department of Human Services to see if the agency had taken away any Oklahoma children because of obesity, but they didn't get back to me by deadline.