When my children were young, I did worry about excessive intrusion on our family as regards our choices in parenting. Thankfully, the boys are close to grown and we escaped any of those kinds of worries.
So it was startling for me to read today about a family who’s children have been taken from them and placed in foster care because they didn’t do enough to offset their children’s obesity. What really makes this scary is this note – “The case was such an unusual one because the children had clearly had some very good parenting, as they were polite, bright, and engaging.”
I see so many obese people of all ages here in our rural Missouri environment. I have struggled with healthy weight issues all of my life, I was raised with a high awareness of this and have dieted my entire life with varying success. At the moment I am holding on (sometimes barely) to a decent stability in that regard. I know that it is important.
The case that prompted this blog occurred in the UK. Social services staff at West Sussex county council had told a family court judge about their concerns. The local authority had provided Fitbits (fitness trackers) and paid for gym membership for the family, who had also signed up to Weight Watchers. Months after family court proceedings began there had been no reduction in the children’s weight, and they had not provided recordings from their Fitbits or attended the Weight Watchers appointments consistently.
The judge said the children’s parents did not seem to understand the seriousness of concerns raised by social services staff and had failed to set boundaries and promote healthy eating and exercise. She said the children needed the chance to “learn ways of living more healthily” and to improve their health by losing weight. The judge said there were also concerns about poor home conditions and a lack of guidance on personal care.
“Everyone agrees that this is a very sad and unusual case, of a loving family, where the parents meet many of the basic needs of the children, but the local authority has been concerned that the parents are not meeting the children’s health needs, in that both children are severely overweight, and the parents have shown an inability to help the children manage this condition,” the judge remarked in her ruling.
Figures in 2014 disclosed that up to 74 morbidly obese children were estimated to have been taken into care over a five-year period across England, Wales and Scotland. Children over age 2 or teens whose BMI is greater than the 95th percentile are considered obese. BMI uses height and weight measurements to estimate body fat. Obese children at BMIs of 30, 35 and 40 are defined as class I, class II meaning severe or class III meaning morbidly obese. Class III obese children had a higher waist circumference, systolic blood pressure and fasting insulinaemia (an abnormally large concentration of insulin in the circulating blood) compared with less obese children.
So, I get it. But foster care ? Seems like an extreme solution. I wonder if the parents are also morbidly obese. If so, do we imprison such people as well ? Just saying.