The debate over whether to place morbidly obese children in foster care or to leave them in an unhealthy home environment resurfaced a few days ago when a 200-pound eight-year-old boy from Ohio was removed from his home.
Case workers grew concerned when their attempts to work with the mother to reduce the child’s weight proved unsuccessful after more than a year, resulting in allegations of medical neglect. Workers blamed the child’s excessive weight on his environment and his mother’s unwillingness to follow doctor’s orders. However, the boy’s mother and her lawyers dispute these claims, stating that the child’s welfare isn’t in immediate danger due to his weight, and that the mother tried to follow doctor’s orders but wonders if others in the home were giving him extra food or if genetics are partly to blame.
What do you think? Should a child be placed in foster care due to a weight issue that may or may not result in health problems down the road? Does protecting the physical health of a child outweigh the potential adverse psychological effects of removing him/her from the home? Who else is to blame for growing rates of childhood overweight and obesity in the US? What role can lawmakers, food manufacturers and advertisers play?
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– Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator
Partners in Health and Wholeness is an initiative of the NC Council of Churches. Please visit our website to view more resources on health and faith: www.healthandwholeness.org.