An Overweight Child Put Into Foster Care?

    This article reports the story about a 200 pound 8-year-old boy who was taken from his family and placed in foster care after county caseworkers in Cleveland said his mother wasn’t doing enough to control his weight.

    Some people will say this is wrong and some will agree with the county case workers. Instead of choosing which side I think is right, I’d like to ask the following: “Why are so many other children - both younger and older than the boy in question - overweight and out of shape?”

    The longer people debate and point fingers at who to blame, the real problem will only take longer to get resolved. If it’s a parenting problem, a government problem, or both, something needs to be done... fast!

    This overweight generation of children are at risk of an early death or at the very least, a difficult, complicated and expensive life trying to cope with the several degenerative diseases they either may have or will no doubt succumb to.

    Another branch of argument is free will. Some people may argue that if the children want to be overweight and choose to eat junk food, why stop them. Well, I doubt these children really want to get overweight... it could be a double-barreled problem of them not having healthy alternatives (either in terms of choice, budget or both) and not receiving the proper education and awareness about the risks of eating junk food.

    The following excerpt from the article only highlights the seriousness of the problem:

    “The mother agreed to enroll the child in a special Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital program called Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight. That program has evaluated more than 900 overweight and obese children from the ages of 4 to 8 since 2005. A team of specialty doctors, nutritionists, psychologists and others treat the children and work to educate families about creating healthy eating habits.

    “Dr. Naveen Uli, a pediatric endocrinologist and co-director of the program, said he is seeing more children who are quickly developing diseases that in the past were seen only in adults, like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. These can affect a person's health, life span and health care costs, he said.

    “But he said interventions need to be targeted, if possible, for the whole family.

    Uli said many families in the program have found it difficult to relearn how to eat, to read and translate confusing food labels and to make the healthy choices. Not all families complete the intense 12-week program, or they are unwilling or unable to grasp the seriousness of the threat, he said.

    “There is no policy on whether to report obese children to the county if they do not complete the program, but doctors can call if they think the child is at risk.”

    Whether you think it’s right or not to take a child away from his/her family for being overweight is a question for another day... instead the real questions should be:

    •    What are we doing as parents AND as a government to prevent the spread of the obesity epidemic?
    •    What are we doing as parents AND as a government to educate children about the risks of eating junk food and how to make healthier choices when it comes to food and lifestyle?
    •    What are we doing as parents AND as a government to encourage and promote healthier living...not just for children but for the greater population?
    •    Why is junk food still not seen as a threat to society like cigarettes, alcohol and drugs?

    By addressing these key questions ASAP and implementing the right solutions... rather than debate the issue and play the blaming game, we’ll help many children and their families to get back on the healthy track and improve their lives.