200-lb, 8-Year-Old Taken From Mother and Placed in Foster Care

November 29, 2011  |  

An 8-year-old third-grader in Cleveland Heights, OH, who weighs more than 200 pounds was taken from his family and placed in foster care.

According to The Huffington Post, the case is the first state officials can recall of a child being placed in foster care strictly for a weight-related issue. It also renews debate over whether parents should lose custody of a child who is severely obese.

Despite the fact that most 8-year-old boys weigh about 60 pounds, lawyers for the boy’s mother say the county overstepped their bounds by removing the boy from the home, charging that the medical problems he is at risk for do not yet pose an imminent danger. Perhaps they haven’t heard of juvenile diabetes.

A spokeswoman for the county, on the other hand, sees the mother’s inability to reduce her son’s weight as medical neglect.

The county is certainly right about neglect. Even if the boy’s medical risks aren’t immediately present, his mother is setting him up to have health complications within the next several years. A light bulb should’ve gone off when the boy reached 100 pounds, which is still 40 pounds heavier than the normal weight for his age. The fact that this young child weighs more than 200 pounds suggests the mother wasn’t doing anything to stop him from gaining even more.  The only thing I’m torn about is the child being placed in foster care. This situation could be very traumatizing for the boy, particularly if he were to get caught up in the system. It would be better to see him placed with a family member who can monitor his health and weight.

What do you think about this case? Did the county overstep their bounds by removing the boy from his home? Should it be considered medical neglect if a parent allows their child to become severely obese?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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