Controversial childhood obesity article stirs up debate

In a controversial article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Wednesday, a group of Harvard University researchers suggested parents should lose custody of a child in extreme childhood obesity cases. After the article stirred up debate across the country, ABC 33/40 News visited a weight management clinic at Children's of Alabama to learn what is being done to combat Alabama's growing childhood obesity problem.

"I know that the state is hearing us when we say this is a health crisis of a generation," said Dr. Stephenie Wallace, Assistant Professor at The University of Alabama at{}Birmingham, who{}also{}serves as{}the medical doctor{}at Children's South weight management program,{}which treats close to 700 patients a year. Wallace noted there are programs across the state helping combat the problem.

Kevin Johnson, Jr.,{}a 16-year-old patient who came to the clinic a year ago, said the staff taught him ways to live a healthier lifestyle. So far, he's lost 20 pounds.

He noted: "I used to not watch what I eat. I used to just eat...I learned that you should take care of your body so that you can live longer and have a healthy life."

Instead of reaching for junk food,{}Johnson now chooses healthier options such as fruits and vegetables.

"I can't just put it upon him to lose the weight," said Kevin's father, Kevin Johnson. "I work out with him daily and change my diet and my habits."

When asked whether he agrees with the state stepping in for{}extreme obesity cases, Johnson quickly disagreed.

"Sometimes what you don't know can hurt you," added Johnson. "There is help out there for those in that condition."

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