A 200-pound boy was removed from his home last month by Children and Family Services in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. At 8-years-old, the third grader should only weigh about 60 pounds.
Officials were made aware of the child's weight last year when he was diagnosed with sleep apnea at a local hospital. They spent 20 months working with the family before the boy's removal, but stepped in when he began to gain weight at a rapid pace.
A judge approved the county's decision, citing medical neglect.
Even though childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels, courts have only just begun weighing in. While diet and exercise are playing an increasing part in divorce and custody cases, state officials have been more reluctant to get involved.
This is because obesity can be caused by a number of factors outside of a parent's control--access to healthy food, poverty, food provided by third parties, neighborhood safety, etc. Medical neglect is not necessarily the culprit.
The mother of the 200-pound boy believes this to be the case. She tried to encourage exercise and even bought him a bike, reports the Plain Dealer. She limited his food intake and enrolled him in a healthy kids program. But then she found out his siblings and other people were slipping him food.
Her attorney further argues that, while the boy is at risk for hypertension and diabetes, these diseases don't yet pose an imminent danger to his health. Children can only be removed from their home when placed in imminent danger.
Whether the mother didn't do enough to help the 200-pound boy is up for debate. But as childhood obesity rates continue to rise, this might be a debate worth having.
- Ohio Officials Take 200-Pound Boy From Mother (Huffington Post)
- Terminating Parental Rights (FindLaw)
- Is Child Obesity Neglect? Can It Cause Parents to Lose Custody? (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)