218-pound 8-year-old removed from home

Posted Nov 28, 2011 by Gar Swaffar
At 218 pounds and only eight years old, an Ohio child has been deemed to be at such risk as to make it necessary to be removed from his home.
The mother in the case had been notified in 2010 that her son was obese to a degree which was unhealthy, so unhealthy that he was at risk of diabetes and hypertension among other weight related problems. The child was on the Cuyahoga County after being taken to a hospital for a breathing problem and he was diagnosed with sleep apnea which can also be a weight related issue.
The Cleveland Heights family as reported in The Plain Dealer is not named for privacy issues related to abuse cases. This is thought to be the first case of a child being removed from a home for weight related abuse, and some are calling it a stretch to fit the criteria.
Sam Amata is the mother's lawyer in the case and had this to say;
"I think we would concede that some intervention is appropriate," Juvenile Public Defender Sam Amata said. "But what risk became imminent? When did it become an immediate problem?"
While Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) spokesperson Mary Louise Madigan states the perspective of the county DCFS is: "This child's problem was so severe that we had to take custody,"
The boy was taken from the home on October 19 this year and his mother is allowed to see him only once each week and then for only two hours.
The mother blamed part of her sons most recent weight gain, after an initial period of loss since the 2010 hospital visit, on friends and perhaps a sibling offering the child additional food. The mother also suggests that genetics might apply since she and the father are also overweight.
The boy was placed in a Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital program, "Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight" While that program is open to children between the ages of 4 to 18, the program has evaluated more than 900 children between the ages of 4 to 8.
Dr. Dr. Naveen Uli and Dr. Sumana Narasimham are co-directors of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight program,in the Plain Dealer article Dr. Uli states it may be difficult for some families to relearn now to both eat and how to read and understand confusing food labels.
The state health department suggests that as many as 12 percent of third graders may be obese, and that would translate to as many as 1,380 third graders in Cuyahoga County who would be obese.
"A 218-pound 8-year-old is a time bomb," Caplan (professor of bioethics and medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania) acknowledged. "But the government cannot raise these children. A third of kids are fat. We aren't going to move them all to foster care. We can't afford it, and I'm not sure there are enough foster parents to do it. "
The foster mother who was given the boy has been offered additional help with trying to keep up with the boy's appointments; a different home with a personal trainer has apparently also been discussed.
Those revelations prompted Juvenile Public Defender Sam Amata to ask; "I wonder why they didn't offer the mother that kind of extra help,"