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Putting Severely Obese Kids In Foster Care? There's Another Way

Putting Severely Obese Kids In Foster Care? There's Another Way

Picture of Antronette Yancey

antronette yancey, instant recess, murtagh, ludwig, obesity, reporting on health

Earlier today, I appeared on NPR's Talk of the Nation to discuss the brouhaha surrounding prominent Harvard pediatrician David Ludwig's and research collaborator Lindsey Murtagh's call for removal of severely obese kids from their homes to "protective custody" in the foster care system.

Certainly, this is not my stance-having worked in foster care for a number of years, that's not a system I'd wish on anyone I cared about, especially my patients.  That's not a rap on many of the wonderful people who attempt to make that system work. 

I approach this issue first from the standpoint of what society needs to do to better support families in making healthy choices, vs. extreme punitive measures.  A prime example is the First Lady's Let's Move campaign and our Partnership for a Healthier America's efforts to support her in ending childhood obesity within a generation. 

We launched the Instant Recess® approach when I was Los Angeles County's Chronic Disease Director to re-integrate short bouts of physical activity into daily routine.  

For more than a decade we've been developing simple and fun activity breaks in DVD and CD formats for the workplace, schools, religious institutions and pro sports stadiums with the intent of making prolonged sitting as socially unacceptable as smoking, or drinking and driving! 

Portland-based outdoor wear company KEEN has recently joined in this effort and launched the Recess Revolution to bring daily recess back for sedentary and stressed-out adults in the workplace. 

In all fairness, Murtagh & Ludwig address this at the end of their commentary:  "Ultimately, government can reduce the need for such interventions through investments in the social infrastructure and policies to improve diet and promote physical activity among children." 

However, the fact that it's the "also-ran" recommendation speaks to the ‘cart before the horse' we take in this country, spending a paltry 2% of health expenditures on prevention and 98% on treatment. 

Placing prevention front and center is the only way we're going to avoid increasingly Machiavellian solutions to this devastating and accelerating problem.

Photo credit: Angela Vincent via Flickr

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