Mom Loses Custody of Kid for Letting Him Get Fat


junk foodDoes this prove the current campaign against childhood obesity has gotten maybe just a little bit out of control? An Ohio third-grader who tips the scales at more than 200 pounds has been removed from his family's custody and placed in foster care after county social workers concluded that his mother's inability to help him shed his considerable spare poundage qualifies as medical neglect.

How absurd! Look, this kid undeniably needs some help taking off his tremendous excess weight, which places him at risk for diabetes and hypertension. (My 8-year-old son, who is within "normal" range, weighs less than a third of what this poor boy weighs!) But couldn't a healthy weight-loss regime be better handled by giving his family the resources and support to tackle the challenge in their own home?

Unless this boy's mother has been abusive in other ways, removing her child from her care, regardless of how lax her diet approach, is really unconscionable. (Did she force-feed him French fries and sugary soft drinks? Some kids sneak food.) It's cruel to both mother and child.

One wonders whether it might prove counterproductive as well. Will this kid eat more to compensate for the loss (even if temporary) of his mom and his home? And how will his diet be regulated in his new foster home? I, for one, am a little worried about overly strict methods that will cause him even more stress. This kid needs a system that helps him gradually lose weight within a loving, supportive environment -- a system that helps him understand how to make healthy choices. Not a system that is itself so sick it would remove him from his family's care.

There could be more to this story than we've been told so far. Perhaps the caseworkers suspected other sorts of abuse or neglect. But if it really is just a case of a mother not taking a stricter hand with her child, albeit a child with a severe weight problem, it's an unfortunate -- and outrageous -- story indeed.

Do you think it makes sense to remove a severely overweight child from his family's care in the interest of his health?


Image via mauricesvay/Flickr

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brebay brebay

I agree it's a sad situation either way, but when a parent IS offered all this support and still does not take advantage of it because she can't tell her child no or bear to see him cry, then what option is left? In my state, the courts have the option of assigning a worker to be in the home 24/7 (or presumably two on shifts,) but this is usually used in cases in which the parent has severe developmental issues but no abuse. I'm not sure if that is the case here, but it sounds like this is a last resort. This will undoubtedly cause enormous stress to the child even if he gets a good foster home, but hopefully the mother will still have lots of visitation time, and this might just be the shock she needs to take advantage of the help she's been offered.


It is really sad, but wonder how much more there is to the story..

Mama2... Mama2MonkeyBoys

Well, it's not the 8 year old's job to make healthy choices. It's his mother's. Clearly she can't say no to him, and allowing him to eat himself into an obese state is neglectful. It's her job as a mother to make sure he is healthy within the parameters she can control. She sure the hell can control what he eats. And she can make him play outside instead of sitting in front of the TV all day. It's called parenting, and she clearly isn't capable of it. Therefore, they took him away until she can figure it out..
Kids don't get obese by themselves. Allowing your child to get to that state is abuse, and clearly neglectful. End of story.

TresM... TresMom0410

I fully support this court's decision. I have always maintained that childhood obesity is a form of child abuse. It's the parents job to make sure their children are safe and healthy. If a parent wasn't feeding their child and he/she became so malnourished they couldn't function, that child would be taken away - so what is the difference?! Obviously this 300 lb child couldn't function and was not living a well adjusted, normal life by any means. Not to mention numerous health problems - that will most likely affect him for the rest of his life. Parents need to wake up and realize that there is a HUGE difference between cute and chubby and just plain fat and unhealthy.

jenni... jennifert39

218 lbs at 8 years old is unacceptable!!!! Even though foster care isn't ideal I agree with the courts.

Melis... Melissa042807

It's hard to say whether or not I think this was overkill, because I don't know all the details. Was the mother offered help and resources and continued in bad habits of caring for her child anyway? 

And I know kids can sneak food, but I find it hard to believe that a 3rd grader could get up to 200 pounds on sneaking food alone. 

brebay brebay

@Melissa - Other articles are saying that she was provided (throught medicaid) a doctor, nutritionist, child and family counseling, and was non-compliant with the treatment plan...

NatAndCo NatAndCo

I have to say I agree with the courts decision IF the mother has been warned and either can't or won't control her child's weight gain. 200 lbs? That is in the weight range for a 6ft tall man, not a third grader. Abuse/neglect doesn't always mean purposefully harming the child. It also means not caring for him/her in all ways a parent should, especially health. If she couldnt/wouldnt provide him with insulin if he was diabetic, would people object to the courts decision? Mind you I also believe that parents who smoke in a house with their children are abusive.

Plenty of people are going to say "oh well where does it end then? Will they take our kids away if we don't give them organic food?" And to that I say... Shut up. Common sense can draw a pretty clear line.

Stephanie Stormageddon Misenti

I'm sorry but I'd have to agree with the child being taken away. I would however like to hear that the mother has to go see a nutritionist and learn how to create healthy meals for her child. A little obesity is understandable because kids do sneak food, but how much food did this boy have to sneak? It's not just a mother not watching her childs diet, but being that overweight at such a young age is a health hazard. If he were to continue eating the way he was, and the mother allowed it, he'd end up weighing 600 lbs in high school! Nobodys body is meant to hold that much weight. I'm a little overweight myself, and I feel the way it strains my body. To allow a young child to feel that, it's just irresponsible and extremely sad. But like I said before, if the mother was forced to see a nutritionist and learn how to create healthier foods that still taste good, and maybe buy a wii or xbox kinect to get that boy moving would do wonders for his health.

RaeAn... RaeAnne.USAF

If you read the whole story then you will find out that the mother doesn't see the big deal in her som being that overweight. She said it's not causing problems right now so it's no big deal. Thats why her child needs to be taken away from her

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