The United Kingdom is waging the war for public health in ways that might look extreme to outside viewers. According to the Sunday Express, over the past year five children were taken into protective custody and separated from their families for being obese; 2012 saw another five such cases.
In America, children can be taken from their parents in cases of extreme abuse or neglect, and British officials are attempting to describe their action in a similar light. They say that they have to make “complex decisions” of whether or not parents should be allowed to care for their children, and the child’s weight is one factor they consider. One social worker reportedly said that “only in extreme cases” would they actually take a child away, preferring instead to negotiate with the parents about eating habits.
The past two years have seen ten such “extreme cases” in the U.K.
Officials also acknowledged that the causes of childhood obesity are different from those of normal abuse. The problems they are considering come from patterns in which children grow habituated to a fatty, sugary diet and insist on these sorts of foods. Their parents, out of misguided love or ill discipline, find themselves unwilling to say “no.”
British officials first warned of their intention to seize obese children in 2006.
America’s own war on obesity is at least as old but has traditionally been prosecuted with much gentler methods. This is less true, however, in recent years which have seen things like Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban and expensive, intrusive obesity-fighting programs under Obamacare.