Childhood Obesity: Should the Law be Allowed to Step In?

   By SheSpeaksTeam  Aug 10, 2012

As the childhood obesity rates soar in this country, one case of a 9-year-old boy leaves many questioning how big of a role parents play in their children’s health and whether the law should be allowed to intervene in some instances.

ABC News reports about the Ohio boy that was taken from his mother and placed into foster care after officials decided the mother was not doing enough to control her son’s weight. Usually when children are placed in foster care it is due to issues of abuse or neglect and many argue that by allowing an overweight child to eat large amounts of fatty food every day is a form of medical neglect.

During the few months that the 9-year-old spent in foster care with an uncle he reportedly lost more than 50 pounds going from 218 pounds down to 166. He is now back in the care of his mother and is said to be doing well exercising and sticking to a healthy diet.

The authors of a controversial new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association explain how in certain instances removal of a severely obese child from their home may prove to be the best option to get them healthy and change their overall lifestyle. The authors write, “In severe instances of childhood obesity, removal from the home may be justifiable, from a legal standpoint because of imminent health risks and the parents’ chronic failure to address medical problems.”

The mother of the child has remained anonymous in the press, but has been quoted speaking out about her disapproval at the state’s decision to remove her son from her care. She says, “They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don’t love my child. Of course I want him to lose weight. It’s a lifestyle change, and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying.”

What do you think of the story of this 9-year-old being temporarily removed from his mother’s care on the basis that she could not get him to lose weight?

Do you think state officials should be allowed to remove obese children from their homes in severe cases?

Make a Comment

jemappel by jemappel | Rye Brook, NY
Aug 14, 2012

Yes. It is sad that we have to resort to soft paternalism - and HARD paternalism - but some people don't seem to be able to control themselves and it drags the rest of us down. This is why Mayor Bloomberg started with banning smoking in bars, then banning trans fats and now finally banning super-sized drinks. People complain about it, but the fact is that his policies ARE WORKING! It's sad that these policies have to be made, but there are too many costs to society on the whole when 'sloppy' people behave badly and it has ramifications on all of us.

laurajc by laurajc | ORANGE, CA
Aug 11, 2012

This is very hard to judge. No child should be in a situation where he/she is so obese. But, why did he get to that size and what options have been presented to get him (and the rest of the family since I find it hard to believe that the rest of the famiy members aren't also overweight) to a reasonable target? Unfortunately, you can't raise other people's children with your own principles and values.

mrssmith35 by mrssmith35 | POTTSTOWN, PA
Aug 11, 2012

This story is just missing too many pieces of information. We all know that a 9 year old child should not weigh 218lbs but why wasn't anything being done before he reached this weight. What about the pediatrician? Is there a program set up for morbidly obese children and their parents to educate them on how and what to eat, counseling, something instead of pulling the child from his mother and home. The health and emotional issues this child has to go through heart attack, stroke, possible death not to mention bullying etc are just not excusable. Is the mother obese? How did the uncle get the boy to lose the weight?