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Obese Ottawa man loses custody of children

An obese Ottawa man has lost custody of his two children, and one of the main factors in the judge's decision was the man's weight.

The 38-year-old father, who can't be identified under the Child and Family Services Act, weighs 380 pounds. Last year, when his children, age five and six, were taken from his ex-wife's house after an alleged overdose, he weighed as much as 525 pounds.

The two boys will now be put up for adoption.

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The story of the custody battle, which has been emerging in media reports  in recent days, raises questions about the role an individual's weight plays in his or her ability to function, and at what point it becomes detrimental to taking care of oneself and others.

Of course, the man's weight was only one factor in the judge's decision. Media reports   indicate the man was, at one time, a chronic marijuana smoker, played video games for hours at a time, and once ran a marijuana grow-op.

But the judge noted the father never showed signs of abuse toward his children and that the man had achieved stability in his life.

The judge also said the man may need roommates in the future to help pay rent and that losing weight was a full-time endeavour.

The man has told several media outlets he is being discriminated against because of his weight and that he wants to go on a hunger strike to protest the decision.

It's a multi-layered story, but one question at the heart of it looms large: Should a person's weight have any bearing on his or her ability to parent?

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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