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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