Are Parents of Obese Kids Abusive?

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

Obese kids picture

Could a heavy kid land you in the pokey? Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Think twice before you give your child that candy bar or cookie -- some are saying obese kids have abusive parents.

Two extremely obese Georgia children who were removed from their home last week have some people saying their weight is a form of child abuse, but experts disagree.

ABC News reports that James and Anne Cardona of Marietta, Ga., were arrested and charged with felony child abuse after their two daughters, ages 5 and 4, were removed from their home.

Not only were their living conditions squalid, but the two girls are dangerously obese. The 5-year-old weighs 158 pounds and has trouble walking, the news station reports. The 4-year-old weighs 89 pounds -- a typical child that age should weigh about 40 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, experts say having an overweight child isn't child abuse, in and of itself."Obesity is usually part of a much bigger problem. In a child protective services capacity, it would be seen as medical neglect, and that's just part of the whole picture," Linda Spears, vice president of policy and public affairs at the Child Welfare League of America, tells ABC. "The question is what's going on with the family that's causing the situation in which you have an obese child with health consequences that are not being addressed."

She adds that as the national "epidemic" of childhood obesity continues to grow, social services departments are likely to see more and more obese kids when investigating child abuse claims.

"There's a good likelihood that you will see a larger percentage of these cases becoming part of the child welfare caseload," Spears tells ABC.

Related: Michelle Obama Launches Website to Combat Childhood Obesity

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.