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Ohio puts 200-pound third-grader in foster care

Cuyahoga County Officials took an eight-year-old boy, weighing over 200 pounds from his mother, and now a court will begin the process of deciding what's best for the child next month. Prof. Arthur Caplan discusses.

An Ohio third-grader weighing more than 200 pounds has been taken from his family and placed into foster care when county social workers said his mother wasn't doing enough to control his weight.

The Plain Dealer reports  that the 8-year-old is considered severely obese and at risk for diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

The Ohio Health Department estimates more than 12 percent of third-graders statewide are severely obese. The removal of the Cleveland child is the first state officials can recall of a child being put in foster care for a strictly weight-related issue.

Lawyers for the mother say the county is overreaching in taking the child. They say the medical problems the boy is at risk for do not yet pose an imminent danger to his health.

Cuyahoga County does not have a specific policy on dealing with obese children, the Plain Dealer reported. A spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services told the newspaper that the agency removed the boy because case workers considered this mother's inability to get her son's weight down a form of medical neglect.

Authorities claim the child's weight gain was caused by his environment and that the mother wasn't following doctor's orders -- an allegation the mother disputes. 

"This child's problem was so severe that we had to take custody," Mary Louise Madigan told the Plain Dealer. The agency worked with the mother for more than a year before asking Juvenile Court for custody of the child, she said.