Tuesday, February 27, 2007

8 years old, 218 pounds - is this child abuse?

Britain Lets Mother Keep 218 Pound 8-Year-Old Son

(AP) LONDON A mother who feared she might lose custody of her obese 8-year-old son unless he lost weight was allowed to keep the boy after striking a deal Tuesday with social workers to safeguard his welfare.

The case has set off a debate over child obesity and raised questions about whether genetics, junk food or bad parenting is to blame.

Connor McCreaddie, of Wallsend in northeastern England, weighs 218 pounds, four times the weight of a healthy child his age.

Connor and his mother, Nicola McKeown, 35, both attended a child protection meeting Tuesday with North Tyneside Council officials.

Before it began, McKeown, a single mother of two, said she hoped she would not lose custody of her son.

"I'm not too good, and I'm very nervous about the meeting. I'm hoping for the best," she said.

Afterward, the Local Safeguarding Children Board issued a statement saying it "was able to confirm that its hope and ambition is to enable this child to remain with his family. In order to move this matter forward, we have made a formal agreement with the family to safeguard and promote the child's welfare."

The agency provided no details about what Connor or his mother would have to do to fight his obesity.

The hearing was held under the Children Act, which places a duty on the local authority to conduct an inquiry if it has "reasonable cause to suspect that a child ... in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm."

The boy's case attracted national attention after his mother allowed an ITV News crew to film his day-to-day life for a month.

When he was 2 1/2, Connor was too heavy for his mother to pick him up, and at 5, he weighed more than 126 pounds, said The Journal, a regional newspaper. Now the boy, who is tall for his age at 5 feet, wears adult clothes and size eight shoes, the newspaper said.

Sky TV showed footage of Connor's mother serving him meals of french fries, meat and buttered bread.

"He'll hover around the kitchen for food. He'll continually go in the fridge," McKeown said of her son. "I just keep telling him to get out of the fridge, wait until meal times and stuff. But at the end of the day, he was born hungry. He has always been hungry."

"Bacon. Mmmm... That's my favorite. Um ... chicken , steak, sausage," the boy told the camera.

Obesity is essentially caused by eating more calories than you burn. Obese people are sometimes thought to have lower metabolic rates than normal, meaning they need less food to maintain their weight.

Childhood obesity is of particular concern because it greatly increases the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, skeletal disorders and strokes. Certain cancers are also associated with obesity, and obese children have a higher chance of premature death.
"Obesity and diabetes used to be seen as middle-age problems, but now we're seeing more and more children with both problems," Rigby said.

"But remember, in this era of nonstop advertising about low-nutrient, high-calorie foods, many parents find it difficult to tear their children from sweets and persuade them to eat fruit and vegetables."

He said he hoped social workers would find out what has caused Connor's obesity.

This is ridiculous. Sad, yes, but also ridiculous. Personally, I feel that the "parenting" this woman is exhibiting is more than enough to charge her with endangerment to her child, or even child abuse. Essentially, she is slowly killing her son. She is his MOTHER, and therefore, she is responsible for keeping her child healthy and out of danger. She says she has "done all she can" and others involved are now pleading with professionals for help.


You know, I have dieted before too. In fact, I am watching what I eat right now. I call it the "Don't eat crap" diet, and to make it work, I don't bring crap food into my house. It makes things a lot easier. Perhaps this family, as well as the millions of others out there who suffer from obesity, would benefit from trying that eating plan.

Oh, but don't forget, heavy people cannot run for President.


Blogger Catzmaw said...

This child is grossly, morbidly obese. He's been described as "born hungry" and appears never to be full. I know there's been some research which indicates that there may be a genetic component to this kind of behavior and the amount of weight gain, so it's not just a case of an indulgent mother with a bratty kid.

The problem is that she's an enabler who gives the kid whatever he wants and has not worked very hard to stop him. This is no doubt due to the way he reacts when his favorite foods are removed.

My son actually suffered a fractured wrist from a boy of this size falling on him in middle school. I knew the boy's family. The mother died from a freak medical malpractice incident for some elective surgery and the grandmother tried desperately to assist this boy. By age 14 he was about 380 pounds and diabetic. Even when the juvenile court got involved and started ordering him to comply with dietary restrictions and exercise requirements he resisted every step of the way. And that was with a very educated, disciplined, and highly motivated grandparent. Last I heard the grandmother had shipped him to an expensive and restrictive facility for juveniles in a last-ditch effort to save his life.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous pm said...

This is a tough issue. I come from a family of all sizes -- from morbidly obese to lean. I'm in the middle. (On my annual January diet -- have lost 15 so far -- want to lose another 10.)

Let me complicate the scenario.

What if it's a case of a parent who spanks a kid once a year if he does something bad? Once a week? Once a day?

And how about this one -- which gets people's blood boiling. The British scientist and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins believes religious education can be a form of child abuse. Now suppose you have a parent who teaches his child that the devil is everywhere, that one must pray every waking second, that even looking at a member of the opposite sex is evil?

9:07 AM  

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