08/31/2011 10:29 am ET Updated Oct 30, 2011

Should Morbidly Obese Children Be Taken From Parents?

Is severe childhood obesity a life-threatening form of abuse that justifies removing a child from his or her parents?

Doctors, lawyers and child welfare experts have grappled with this question in recent years, and the debate was renewed this summer by a high-profile commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. Dr. David Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children's Hospital Boston, and Lindsey Murtagh, a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, argued that when children are near death due to morbid obesity, state intervention should be considered. The practice is uncommon, but it has been done in rare instances in the U.S. and abroad.