Saturday, March 08, 2008

Child Obesity and Child Custody

According to Public Health Agency of Canada, obesity rates among children and youth have nearly tripled during the last 25 years. There has been an alarming rise in the proportion of children at an unhealthy weight. According to the agency, it is an issue that affects children across the country and across diverse populations.

There is a lot of societal awareness about the problem, which is evident in various Government initiatives to promote healthy eating, physical activity and healthy weights. The Federal Government even introduced a monetary incentive to promote physical activity amongst children by providing a Children’s Fitness Tax Credit effective 1st January 2007.

Now the subject appears to be influencing decisions of courts in custody matters as well.

According to a National Post Report, an Ontario family court judgment involving the Children's Aid Society recently cited obesity as a reason for removing a child from the parental home.

Poor eating habits and physical inactivity are the most common causes of obesity. Small children may have no control if they are being raised in an environment of unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity. In such cases childhood obesity could be considered a result of parental neglect, giving the child welfare authorities reason to seek removal of children from parental custody.

- Shashi K. Raina, Toronto

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