In a commentary (sub required) in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a lawyer and a doctor are arguing that child protective services should perhaps be allowed to take fat kids away from their unfit parents. The rationale for involving the authorities is:
Many biological, psychosocial, and behavioral factors affect energy balance and, therefore, childhood weight gain, with parents playing an important mediating role. Ubiquitous junk food marketing, lack of opportunities for physically active recreation, and other aspects of modern society promote unhealthful lifestyles in children. Inadequate or unskilled parental supervision can leave children vulnerable to these obesigenic environmental influences. Emotional distress and depression, or other psychological problems arising from abuse and neglect, may exacerbate this situation by leading to disordered eating and withdrawal from sports and other social activities.
Even relatively mild parenting deficiencies, such as having excessive junk food in the home or failing to model a physically active lifestyle, may contribute to a child's weight problem.
And it's not just feeding kids too many calories. Letting them watch too much television, play too many video games, or, in the case of my parents, letting me read a book a night, can also contribute to being a porky child. As comprehensive health care reform (aka socialized medicine) advances, can proposals for licensing parents be too far behind?