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Should obese children be placed in foster care?

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An 8-year-old boy in Ohio was placed in foster care because he weighed more than 200 pounds.

Representatives from the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) say the boy should weigh 60 pounds at his height and age. According to case workers, the mother had committed a form of medical neglect by failing to make the boy lose weight. County officials first heard about the boy when he was taken to the hospital because of breathing problems. He was diagnosed with sleep apnea, which can be weight related. The family’s lawyer however, claims the child had no imminent health problems warranting the move. Prior to his removal, the agency claims to have worked for 20 months with the family. The removal was approved by a judge.


The case brings up an interesting issue. When is childhood obesity a problem of the state? What about children who live with smokers? Should smoking be considered a form of medical neglect because those children may develop breathing issues in the future?


Dr. Charles Sophy, medical director, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services

Leslie Heimov, executive director, Children’s Law Center of California

Dr. Antronette Yancey, professor, Department of Health Services UCLA School of Public Health