A third-grader who weighs over 200 pounds was taken out of his home in Cleveland, Ohio and placed in foster care, after officials deemed his mother wasn't properly controlling his weight.
The Associated Press reported that this is the first incidence in Ohio where a child was put in foster care solely for weight-related issues.
The obese eight-year-old was removed on Oct. 19 from his home in Cleveland after social works said his mother was incapable of monitoring her son's weight, a form of medical neglect, according to the Plain Dealer.
This child's problem was so severe that we had to take custody, Department of Children and Family Services spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan told the Plain Dealer.
Authorities said the environment in which he lived with his mother, who did not follow doctor's orders for the boy's diet, were attributed to his obesity.
They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don't love my child, the boy's mother told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. 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.
Lawyers for the boy's mother argued that the case was overreached, and the boy shouldn't have been taken from his home. The mother told the newspaper she was only allowed to see him once a week for two hours while the county believes time away from his family will help the boy get to a healthy weight.
The boy first got on the radar of the Department of Children and Family Services when his mother took him to the hospital last year, the Plain Dealer reported. He was diagnosed with sleep apnea, for which he was treated by wearing a breathing machine to help and monitor his breathing at night. Since sleep apnea could emerge from obesity, the child was put under protective supervision where he was monitored.
Under orders from a doctor, the mother tried to monitor the boy's diet. She forbade other children and his sibling from giving the boy extra food and persuaded him to eat healthier and exercise on a bike she purchased for him. She even signed him up for a program at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital called Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight.
He lost weight at one point before gaining it all back, weighing in at over 200 pounds. However, his mother said she believes genetics is a large factor in her child's obesity, as she and the boy's father are overweight.
The case of the 200-pound boy being removed from his home is one instance within a national debate over whether or not social services should be allowed to place children into foster care when a weight problem is evident. A Harvard University professor and obesity expert made a controversial comment which spurred debate.
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, Dr. David Ludwig wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association
A hearing is set for next month on the 200-pound boy's ninth birthday to determine if the mother will regain custody. According to the Plain Dealer, the boy has lost some weight since Oct. 19 when he was removed from his home.