I got a number of emails about our story looking at the case of the eight year old Ohio boy who was removed from his mother's care because he was more than 200 pounds, which state officials suggest means that she is putting his life and health at risk.

MNB user George Denman wrote:

I struggle with this government intrusion. While I understand that this child at 200 pounds is at risk for many diseases, what right does the state have to take him away from a happy home environment. Do they think they he would be better off in foster care?  Where does the state stop this intrusion? If your kids plays football and breaks an arm, do they take the child away from the parents because he is at risk for future injuries??  Is 200 pounds the cut-off here?  What about 6 years old that weigh 150 pounds and are considered obese?

Another MNB user wrote:

Regarding the Slate story about the young boy in Ohio, I have a couple of comments.

First, there was a piece in the Huffington Post citing some new numbers from Gallup. Self reported weights are up 20 pounds from 1990, and our perceptions of ideal weight have increased similarly in that 20 year time span. And yet the majority of Americans describe their weight as "about right." Normally analysts are quick to judge self-report data as aspirational or "less accurate" but the story here is precisely about how our self described perceptions have changed.

And I believe this echoes a larger trend regarding eating habits. We simply refuse to accept the proposition that it is not okay to constantly eat. That may sound simplistic, but consider the following anecdote. My sister and niece came to visit last summer and within an hour she was remarking on the lack of "things to eat" in our household. A quick trip to the store brought two grocery bags of chips, "fruit" gushers, juice boxes, candy, nuts, soda and so forth. And over the course of a week I watched as my niece who is not (yet) overweight—"needed" 4 or 5 snacks a day, and drank very little water. As delicately as possible, I approached the subject with my sister, noting that we (fortunately) never snacked that way when we grew up. Her reply "You don't have a kid, so you can't understand—things have really changed since when we were kids."

I guess they have. To this end, I suspect that poor fellow in Ohio is simply at the far end of the bell curve of a cohort of constant eaters.


MNB user David Vincent Dec wrote:

Taking this child away from his family is not in the best interest of this child. The best for this child would be to involve him and his family in a healthy life style training & learning program. A program with weekly accountability, measurement, and evaluation. Placing this child into the foster care system will cause more damage than this child will be able to over come in adult life, leaving him to more harm to himself and society, not to say the harm to his entire family. When change is needed, breaking a family apart is the sure fire wrong decision. Training for the entire family is the answer.

But another MNB user wrote:

So if the County officials do nothing what will the headline be in 3-5 years after he dies in his sleep due to either apnea or heart failure or some other weight related illness; "County Officials being investigated for allowing child to Die!"

If their job is to protect the child and the parent(s) clearly will not do that then aren't the County officials obligated to remove him?


MNB user George Overbeck wrote:

I live in Ohio and I think they are going after the wrong children –we can fix obesity – eat less – there is no fix for stupid – I think we should start taking the children away from parents if they are getting all failing grades!  The state could start educating the really failing kids and fix a lot of problems.   The state could start children schools or prisons and keep them until they start passing their tests.  This would help the unemployment problem but might add to the state expenses – then we could just raise taxes.  Where does individual and parent responsibility start and end?  What did we do before the nanny state started protecting us!  We laugh at China policy of one child – we could be next.

From another MNB user:

This one weighs heavily on my mind as a previous single parent, or any parent for that matter.  So many factors come into play regarding weight and while I hurt for overweight children, I don't think blaming the parent(s) will fix the problem.  Instead, many factors have to be reviewed.  For example, where they live can the child safely play outside without supervision such as a backyard?  Possible medical reasons why the child is obese such as thyroid disease or a gland disorder?  What are the eating habits of the family, do they have access to fruit and veggies?  How is the income of the parent(s) and what can they afford to eat.  Let's face it, eating healthy is expensive.  Not an excuse, simply reality and in today's economy, the parent(s) may be doing all they can to keep a roof over their heads.   The article mentions the child is an honor student and active in school activities - doesn't sound like abuse to me but rather his interests may be academic vs physical.  No matter how you look at this one, I personally believe the government has gone too far.

The thing is, I disagree that eating healthy has to be more expensive. It is all a matter of priorities.

I remain troubled by this decision. And I have to believe that there had to be another option, that removing the child from the home is a bridge too far.- Morning News Beat