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Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Should the State Be Allowed to Remove Overweight Children?

  • Jim Daly
    Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2011 Dec 01
  • Comments





By now you’ve probably heard the story of an Ohio mother whose 8-year-old son was taken away from her because of the boy’s weight.scale1.jpg

The Cleveland Heights youth tips the scales in excess of 200 pounds. Doctors recommend that a child of that age and height should weigh somewhere between 55 and 60 pounds.

To be fair, I’m not aware of all the facts of the case. I did read that state workers had been monitoring the child’s situation for over a year. During that time they reportedly worked unsuccessfully with the family in an attempt to help the child lose weight. A judge in juvenile court ultimately ordered the boy out of the home and into foster care.

At the very least, knowing what I do know, I have to admit to feeling queasy about the judge’s decision.

How about you?

After all, where is the line? At what point is it appropriate for the government to be the arbiter of what’s an acceptable weight for a son or daughter?

Is it ever appropriate for a child to be removed from a home because of their weight?

Officials claim this was a preventative measure. Although obesity can lead to serious medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, the child is not currently suffering from anything other than sleep apnea, according to reports.

And now, the temporary loss of his biological mother.USConstitution.jpg

If government representatives can remove an overweight child from a home is there anything stopping them from doing the same thing for children whose parents smoke or engage in other physically unhealthy behavior?

To be sure, my wife, Jean, and I believe strongly in maintaining a healthy home environment and making sure that our boys eat a healthy diet.

But is this taking things too far? Did the state overstep their authority?

Let me take this another logical step. If the government is able to determine what is physically acceptable on a subjective matter do they also have the authority to determine what is morally and spiritually acceptable as well? Could this threaten our religious liberties if taken to the extreme?

I’m eager to hear from you on this one. Please check in and let me know what you think.

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