Who's to Blame?: Obese 3rd grader removed from home - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Who's to Blame?: Obese 3rd grader removed from home

Posted: Updated: Nov 28, 2011 06:16 PM

Is Cuyahoga County overstepping its bounds?
Believe it or not, they took a 218 lb third grader from his own mother.

There is unanimous agreement that this child is in need of medical help and the best help to avoid lifelong disease is for him to lose lots of weight, but how? And is it the job of government to dictate how?

"This is an epidemic now in the United States.  This is the most chronic disease in children," said Dr. David Kaelber.

At MetroHealth Medical Center Dr. David Kaelber treats obese children. He says 40% of children in Cuyahoga County are overweight and only 10% of them have been diagnosed. It is mix of poor diet, too much fast food and too little exercise. We talked to him right after he met with a severely obese child's father. The boy in the 99th percentile.

"What I told him is it is going to be difficult now but if we wait for another 10 years it's going to be much more difficult," said Dr. David Kaelber.

Children and family services says it had worked with the boys mother for nearly a year, saw little progress, so acted on his behalf. There is certainly some blame on his mother or that of any obese 8 year old.

"You're not purchasing your own food somebody else is really having much more control over what you're eating for good or for ill," said Dr. David Kaelber.

Dr. Kaelber says there is also blame on the boy's health care provider, and school which could have done more. He'd also like to see public policy changes. That is exactly why this case is generating so much buzz. Cuyahoga County has no concrete policy dealing with obese kids.

Critics of the boys removal ask why was he removed from his family when Juvenile Justice Center Judges, on a regular basis, allow children who have been abused or even beaten to remain with parents who hurt them.

Pat Rideout, with Child and Family Services calls this "a medical neglect case" she says the agency was told that the boys medical condition was "severe even life threatening" and that Children and Family Services has a legal responsibility "to take action when doctors indicate this kind of problem.

From the county's standpoint changing behavior's wasn't going on in the home, so the child is out of the home.  For others the county's nose never belonged in the home.


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