From the Article:
CLEVELAND, Ohio — An 8-year-old Cleveland Heights boy was taken from his family and placed in foster care last month after county case workers said his mother wasn’t doing enough to control his weight.
At more than 200 pounds, the third-grader is considered severely obese and at risk for developing such diseases as diabetes and hypertension.
But even though the state health department estimates more than 12 percent of third-graders statewide are severely obese — that could mean 1,380 in Cuyahoga County alone — this is the first time anyone in the county or the state can recall a child being taken from a parent for a strictly weight-related issue.
The case plays into an emerging national debate that has some urging social-service agencies to step in when parents have failed to address a weight problem.
Others suggest there’s hypocrisy in a government that would advocate taking children away for being overweight while saying it’s OK to advertise unhealthy food and put toys in fast-food kids’ meals.
Cuyahoga County does not have a specific policy on dealing with obese children. It removed the boy because case workers considered this mother’s inability to get her son’s weight down a form of medical neglect, said Mary Louise Madigan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services.
They said that the child’s weight gain was caused by his environment and that the mother wasn’t following doctor’s orders — which she disputes.
“This child’s problem was so severe that we had to take custody,” Madigan said. The agency worked with the mother for more than a year before asking Juvenile Court for custody of the child, she said.
Lawyers for the mother, a substitute elementary school teacher who is also taking vocational school classes, think the county has overreached in this case by arguing that medical conditions the boy is at risk for — but doesn’t yet have — pose an imminent danger to his health.
They question whether the emotional impact of being yanked from his family, school and friends was also considered.
“I think we would concede that some intervention is appropriate,” Juvenile Public Defender Sam Amata said. “But what risk became imminent? When did it become an immediate problem?”
Children are ordinarily removed from their homes for physical abuse, neglect or undernourishment.
Amata said that in his decades as a public defender, he has seen children left in homes with parents who have severe drug problems or who have beaten their children, with the reasoning that there isn’t an immediate danger to the child.
I’m kind of confused as to why social services are getting involved in a situation like this. For an 8 year old to be that overweight, wouldn’t there be an existing possibility of severe glandular/metabolic issues that can’t be controlled? I highly doubt this resulted from parental neglect alone, and I think that other alternative solutions should be considered first before the kid has no choice but to endure the numerous psychological issues that normally accompany life as a foster child. I’ve heard of children being enrolled in foster care due to abuse in the home, neglect, drug use, etc., but never for being too fat.