A couple from Georgia was charged with felony child cruelty, because they were rearing their two children under unhealthy conditions. Their five-year-old daughter weighs 158 pounds and their four-year-old daughter weighs 89 pounds. Average weight for these ages are 35 and 40 pounds respectively.
Although some people may believe that parents of extremely obese children are child abusers, experts say that is not necessarily the case.
Dr. Keith Ayoob, a professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said that hormonal imbalances or medical conditions such as Prader-Willi Syndrome can cause extreme obesity. He acknowledged that while some children seem to be born with abnormally ravenous appetites, many parents simply feed their children too much food.
"This can happen when mothers are constantly bottle-feeding or if they start solid foods too soon," he said. "They think every time the child cries, the baby is hungry."
Obesity puts children at risk for serious medical conditions such as diabetes, early-onset heart disease, hypertension, knee and joint problems, and psychological issues such as depression.
"Obesity is usually part of a much bigger problem," said Linda Spears, vice president of policy and public affairs at the Child Welfare League of America. "The question is, what is going on with the family that is causing the situation in which you have an obese child with health consequences that are not being addressed."
She and others predict an increase in criminal and child protective services cases involving childhood obesity, because there are more children who are severely overweight.
Labels: parenting, abuse
Posted By: CRC Health 3 Comments