Associated Press and Stuff 13/07/2011
Removing extremely obese children from parents’ custody is not the answer to the epidemic, New Zealand experts say. A provocative commentary due to published in the Journal of the American Medical Association said the government should intervene in extreme obesity cases. But Robyn Toomath from New Zealand’s Fight the Obesity Epidemic said the argument sounded “incredibly punitive” towards parents, and there was not enough evidence to support it. “I’ve seen many families where the parents have brought their overweight children to me in a state of despair. “Finding that their efforts are overwhelmed by the fact that children are surrounded by advertising, and watch TV which promotes junk food.” Toomath said even with dedicated parents, environmental influences and genetics also played a part. And placing children in government custody could do more harm than good. “It would be justifiable if you had good evidence that you can actually make children thin by such programmes. “Their success is actually short-lived and rare. So it’s a hell-of-a-thing to do without much evidence that is going to be successful.” The most recent Health Ministry figures show that one-in-five Kiwi children was overweight and one in 12 was obese, according to their body mass index (BMI) rating.