News roundup: Remove obese children from their homes?


Child custody and obesity

Should government take children from their parents if the children become obese? In Ohio, parents lost custody of their 8-year-old son because he weighed more than 200 pounds. The boy was placed in foster care.

Officials argue that his sleep apnea problem, possibly related to his obesity, is imminently dangerous. The family’s public defender will argue that the boy is not in imminent danger.

Where do we draw the line on when government steps in to “protect” children from their parents? Utah has seen its fair share of cases in which DCFS, without just cause, has removed or attempted to remove children from homes, including this case.


According to preliminary data from the CDC, teen pregnancy rates hit a record low in 2010. The birthrate for teenagers age 15-19 fell 9 percent from 2009 to 2010 and is “the lowest rate ever recorded in nearly seven decades of collecting data.”

While this news is good, the CDC also reports that the total number of births for all women in the U.S. declined 3 percent over the same period and the fertility rate fell from 66.2 births per 1,000 females to 64.1, which is the third straight drop in the overall fertility rate.

While birthrates in the U.S., and especially in Utah, are relatively high compared with other nations, declining rates should be cause for concern. We don’t want to end up like Europe, where plummeting birth rates are causing trepidation.

Infidelity and politics

Should voters be privy to information about the sex lives of elected officials and candidates for office? Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is under fire for allegations regarding his personal relations.

A blog at The Economist argues that the media should inform citizens about such behavior because “[c]andidates increasingly treat their private life, in the form of their spouses and children, like a campaign prop, something to be put on display in an effort to promote a wholesome image,” but sometimes “that public image is at odds with the truth.”

I tend to side with The Economist for the reasons it explained, along with others. As I wrote in 2007, “While actions in the private and public spheres may be separate, character is consistent in both.”