8-Year old obese Cleveland, Ohio boy taken from home and placed into foster care

By: Jennifer Pretty Jan 10, 2012
Obesity in children

This is surely going to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. At the centre of this story is a boy who is going to tug at your heartstrings. Maybe the mother’s actions will upset you; maybe the county’s response will anger you. I don’t think there is a person who won’t have an opinion.

If you haven’t heard this story, I will lay it out for you. But one thing I won’t do, which is uncustomary for me, is to taint you with my opinion. It’s not that I don’t have my own, and you know I have one because I have one about everything, but I want to do something different with this one. This is a very controversial story. I would like to see your thoughts.

Hey, it’s a new year – maybe it’s a new me!

It All Started When…

In the early months of 2010, a mother brought her then 7-year old son to the hospital with concerns that he was having problems sleeping. He kept waking himself in the middle of the night and worse experienced difficulty breathing. At points during the night he would even stop breathing. The doctors diagnosed him with sleep apnea and advised her to buy a sleeping apparatus designed to help him breathe while he slept. The mother complied. Along with this diagnosis and suggestion, the doctors went a step further. They reported the case to the county’s protective services because they were concerned about his weight and felt it warranted a “look see” by the agency. Their concern was that his sleep apnea was the result of his weight, which was 200 pounds.

During subsequent follow-up visits, doctors recommended that the boy’s mother buy him a bicycle and that she enroll him in a hospital program called Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight. Under the guidance of a team of nutritionists, psychotherapists, endocrinologists, and pediatric heart specialists, the goal of the program is to treat obese children (of which the hospital had reported over 900 cases since 2005) and teach the families to eat a more healthy diet.  

The boy began to achieve significant weight loss. However, much of this changed in 2011 when his weight started creeping up again. All of his progress and regression were reported to the Department of Children and Family Services, who felt his mother wasn’t doing enough to keep his weight under control. On October 19, 2011, in an unprecedented move, the boy was taken out of school and placed into foster care. Following this, his mother was allowed only two hours per week of supervised visits with her son. This situation was considered a case of child abuse.

This is a precedent-setting case.

Since October 19, 2011 the boy has been in foster care and has shown marginal success with his weight loss. However, the foster mother admits that she is finding it a huge challenge to keep up with the all the appointments for the child. The most recent update to the story is that the county agency is considering whether to bring in a personal trainer.

A trial is scheduled for sometime this month, which could determine what’s best for the boy.

What do you think?


Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!


Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!