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Obesity a growing topic in child custody disputes

When two divorcing parents in Texas are involved in a child custody dispute, issues often revolve around a child's well-being. Sometimes a child's health takes center stage, and lately the obesity epidemic has played an increasing role in child custody disputes.

It's becoming more common for estranged spouses to argue that the other's care for their children is subpar because of how they are managing the child's diet. One could argue allowing a child an endless supply of potato chips and soda is not in the child's best interest.

In an extreme case in 2009, a judge put a 555-pound 14-year-old boy in another state in foster care, while the boy's mother was arrested. That's an extreme example, but the obesity problem is nothing to sneeze at, and it's getting more attention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of American children and teenagers, or 12.5 million of them, are obese.

In one recent case, a boy who clocked in at 95th percentile for his weight was apparently found to have been fed fast food at nearly every meal by his parent. He was also found to be lacking medical care and was behind on getting vaccinated. A judge switched custody to the other parent.

Why is all this coming to the forefront now? Probably because the obesity problem in this country makes headlines every day, and more and more Americans are aware of the complications being obese causes. It's quite possible obesity while be an even more common topic in child custody cases in the future.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Obesity fuels custody fights," Ashby Jones and Shirley S. Wang, Oct. 29, 2011

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