Obesity and Parental Liability

In Ohio in 2017, CSCCare.com reported, an 8-year-old Ohio boy who weighed more than 200 pounds was removed from his mother’s sphere of influence, due to her “inability or inaction,” and “medical neglect.” He was placed in foster care, and the writer was anxious to warn readers that this possibility is “a real threat” to all parents:

[T]he case was monitored for more than one year before social workers went to Juvenile Court to remove him from his mother’s care. Given the age of the child, the only way for him to have gained this much weight was with food purchased and/or prepared by his mother.

The child was under a doctor’s care, so lack of medical insurance or money to see a doctor was not the problem. There was clear incentive to help the child reduce weight, given the pressure and visits by social services, and yet it did not happen.

Last year, in the United Kingdom, a 12-year-old girl described as dangerously overweight was removed from her mother’s care to a foster home. The local authorities proceeded with legal charges against the mother, who actually faces permanent loss of custody.

Also in the U.K., a 10-year-old boy named Kyon Fritz Marriott made news as (probably) the country’s most obese child of primary school age. Journalist Scarlet Howes gives his statistics as height, 5 feet 1 inch; waistline 47 inches.

No one enjoys condemning parents, but some parents seem to embody every trait the public health authorities, and the taxpayers, find so frustrating. Meanwhile, Kyon told the reporter he felt like a “slave” to his uncontrollable eating, and that he just wanted to be a normal 10-year-old.

In this particular case, it was recommended that young Kyon have bariatric surgery in two years, and according to his mother, Nadine, he hung all his hopes on that impending event. But Nadine applied to the National Health Service, asking the government to immediately send him to fitness camp. However, the government could not find the funds to do so. Is this the story of a brave woman fighting the establishment on behalf of her sick child?

Or is it a story proving that some problems absolutely require treatment by psychiatrists and psychologists? Howes quotes Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, whose expertise is in child obesity. In his view, bariatric surgery is not a long-term answer for a child. He says, “Any therapy needs to take a 360-degree approach to the problem and people need to be dealt with compassion.”

The thing is, another approach had already been tried, a few years previously. Howes writes,

In 2014 Kyon went on an NHS nine-month dietary programme at a London clinic called the Mary Sheridan Centre and his weight stabilised. However four years later he was morbidly obese…

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Childhood Obesity Warrants Removal of Child to Foster Care,” CSCCare.com, 10/27/17
Source: “Obese girl, 12, taken from her mum after doctor says her BMI is at ‘dangerously high levels’,” Mirror.uk.com, 01/18/18
Source: “Boy, 10, who weighs 17 STONE feels like a ‘slave’ to his weight and fears food addiction may kill him,” Mirror.co.uk, 08/11/18
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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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