obese boyIt has already happened a few times already and now 8-year-old American boy has been taken from his family and placed in foster care because his mother cannot control his weight.

The Cleveland, Ohio, boy is said to be severely obese — he weighs over 200 pounds — and at risk for diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. The case is the first state officials can recall of a child being put in foster care strictly for a weight-related issue.

Lawyers for the mother say the county overreached when authorities took the boy last week. They say the medical problems he is at risk for do not yet pose an imminent danger.

A spokeswoman says the county removed the child because caseworkers saw his mother’s inability to reduce his weight as medical neglect.

No mention of dad, you notice. That could be the fundamental problem: single mom, either as a result of non-marriage or divorce, with emotional and financial problems, too demoralised to do the job of two parents, let alone one… But which authorities are trying to protect children from that sort of thing?

As for the justice of removing the child from home, it seems questionable. Mariette Ulrich dealt with some of the issues a few months ago, including the risk of a nanny-state slippery slope.

Wouldn’t a mentoring system for the mother be better? If the parent is the problem, the first move should be to help her. Would it be more expensive to pay a competent and understanding (older) mom and dad to spend time with the family than to put the child with foster parents?

PS: Further info about the case here: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/11/obese_cleveland_heights_child.html

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet