Update: Doc Takes Heat for Suggesting Kids Be Removed From Obsese Parents

Filed under: In The News, Health

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Boston pediatrician David Ludwig suggested children should be taken away from their obese parents.

Uh, why is everyone looking at him like that?

MSNBC reports Ludwig's comments, made in the Journal of the American Medical Association, have touched off an intense controversy among parents who can't agree on whether he should be barbecued or fricasseed.

Ludwig, in a piece he co-wrote with Lindsey Murtagh of the Harvard School of Public Health, recalled a 3-year-old girl who weighed in at his Boston clinic at 90 pounds. Her parents reportedly had physical disabilities, little money and difficulty controlling her weight.

Last year, he wrote, she returned at age 12 weighing 400 pounds. She had diabetes, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

Ludwig wrote that might be an example of a case where parental rights should be taken away. At least temporarily.

MSNBC reports Ludwig has since received a flood of emails from angry and terrified parents, while other medical experts have jumped on him for suggesting kids be removed from otherwise functional and supportive parents.

Ludwig says the article was meant to promote a dialogue on childhood obesity.

"It's absolutely understandable that if someone with an obese child heard the government could swoop in and take that child away, (they would) be frightened and outraged," Ludwig tells Reuters. "I want to emphasize that foster care should only be the last resort when all other options have failed."

In his replies to parents, Ludwig provides copies of his original piece, pointing out where it says removing children from the home is rarely the solution.

"It's just been heartbreaking to see how the story has been wildly exaggerated by some of the media, causing a great deal of pain and suffering for people," Ludwig tells Reuters.

Ludwig adds state intervention could also include financial support to families, social services, access to safe recreation areas and even parenting courses to help manage a child's uncontrolled eating habits.

"The ultimate answer to the obesity epidemic is not to blame parents, it's to create a more healthful and supportive society," he tells the news service. "But until we get there, what do we do about that 14-year-old, 400-pound child who's not facing increased risk of illness 20 years from now, but who's facing life-threatening complications today?"

Related: Doctor: Some Parents Too Fat to Have Kids

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