Are obese children cause for child protection intervention?

Experts on children’s health are saying parents of obese children are guilty of neglect and failure to instil a good diet and exercise could become a child protection issue.

Parents who avoid weight management initiatives, ignore advice and guidance from professionals and fail to help their child eat and exercise properly could make them guilty of neglect.

Though experts at the UCL Institute of Child Health in London say that weight itself is not a reason for authorities to get involved, they have suggested it may be appropriate to consider the child protection register if the parents consistently fail to adopt suggested changes to the family’s lifestyle and will not actively participate in outside help.

In an article featured in the British Medical Journal, UCL highlighted how if a parent fails to provide their children with treatment for a chronic illness such as diabetes, this is classed as a form of neglect and grounds for a child protection registration.

This could involve not turning up to appointments or failing to get involved with healthcare staff or various other professionals.

Dr Russell Viner of UCL has said he and his colleagues plan to review all of the evidence to search for a link between neglect and childhood obesity as currently no guidelines exist for professionals.

On the opposing side many are saying removing children from their parents may only make matters worse, as studies have found that 37% of children in care were overweight or obese with half having put on the weight after being put into care.

Viner has said that before a child would be put on the register there would have to be clear evidence over a sustained period that parents were not complying with a treatment plan.

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Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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