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Obesity playing larger role in child custody disputes

Obesity rates in children have apparently tripled since 1980. Now, about 17 percent of children and teens in this country are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts say that rising number is now playing a role in child custody disputes.

Children's health and well-being is frequently at the center of such disputes in Colorado and other states, and their eating habits are coming to be the center of attention in some cases.

For example, in one case, a judge noted that a child was being fed fast food at almost every meal. It was also discovered that he was overdue for vaccines and wasn't getting proper medical care. His custody was accordingly switched.

Some parents may argue that their ex-spouses are giving children subpar care by allowing them to consume endless amounts of soda and potato chips. Some cases revolve around grossly overweight children, but not all. Some may even concern parents who are allegedly too obese to properly care for their children.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the topic is getting more attention from a legal perspective. Some states have added specific criteria for judges when they are looking at the "best interests" of a child, including whether the child is exercising and what they are eating.

This is likely coming to a boil now because the general public has gained a greater understanding of the dangers of obesity. And as the epidemic continues, the issue is not going away anytime soon.

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

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