Last month, an 8-year-old Ohio boy was removed from his family home and placed in foster care—not because of physical abuse, but because the third-grader weighed more than 200 pounds. County case workers argued that the boy’s mother was engaging in medical neglect by not getting his weight under control, and say his weight puts him in danger of developing serious health conditions. But some say the whole thing smacks of hypocrisy, particularly when the same government that removed the boy also deemed pizza a vegetable for the purposes of school lunches. It’s “a schizophrenic stance,” one medical ethics professor tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Lawyers for the boy’s mother also argue that the honor-roll student faces no immediate health threat, and point out that the emotional impact of being taken from his family could hurt him. After learning about the child's weight in 2010 after he sought hospital care for breathing issues, DCFS worked with the boy’s mother for more than a year before seeking custody. But her lawyers also argue that she has not gotten the same assistance the boy’s foster mother has gotten. Because the foster mom is struggling to keep up with the boy’s appointments, officials are considering getting her extra help or moving the boy to a home with a personal trainer. Says the public defender, “I wonder why they didn't offer the mother that kind of extra help.” (Read more obesity stories.)