When officials in Cleveland decided a mother had not done enough to help her third grader,who weighed more than 200 pounds, to lose wight, they took the boy from her.
The boy’s mother (who was not identified) said, “They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don’t love my child…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.”
The boy’s weight was brought to the attention of officials after his mother took him to the hospital last year to get treatment for breathing problems, according to the newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The child’s diagnosis was sleep apnea and social workers began to monitor him while he was enrolled in “Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight” a program at the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reprted that the boy lost a few pounds, but then began to gain some weight back, causing the Department of Children and Family Services to ask a juvenile court for custody of the boy, citing his increasing weight as a form of medical neglect.
The removal of obese children from their families has become a topic of intense debate recently since one high-profile pediatric obesity expert advocated the practice in comments in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. David Ludwig (co-writing with Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health) wrote, “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,”
A trial date is set for next month on the boy’s ninth birthday to determine if his mother will regain custody.