Children could be taken away from their parents if they become too fat under a controversial proposal by an Australian doctor.

With 1-in-4 children in Australia overweight or obese, Dr. Shirley Alexander, of the Children's Hospital at Westmead, wants parents to be disciplined in "extreme cases" when their child becomes too overweight.

Under the proposal, child protection agencies would be called in to seize a child when parents repeatedly failed to address diet problems.

"We argue that in a sufficiently extreme case, notification of child protection services may be an appropriate professional response," Alexander said.

In one case welfare authorities were forced to intervene when a 4-year-old girl stood 3-and-a-half-feet tall and weighed about 88 pounds. The girl watched TV for six hours a day and had tantrums when denied food.

Alexander said despite the efforts of health workers, a "family-focused" program failed to stop or reverse the child's weight gain.

She said child protection authorities were notified, and the child was put on a diet and physical activity program that had her losing weight.

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