Finding someone to blame

While there have been discussions in the media about childhood obesity raising child protection concerns, the 2010 BMJ article Childhood protection and obesity: framework for practice draws attention to the fact that obesity alone is not a child protection concern.  It further highlights the importance of assessing other areas of concern, including (but not limited to) school attendance, poor hygiene, emotional and behavioural difficulties and other familial and environmental factors.

A different analysis of this issue is offered in the 2009 paper Childhood Obesity and Medical Neglect, which concludes that a child should only be removed from the home environment if three conditions apply and which the authors highlight would only apply in a very limited number of cases.

In 2012, the media article Is this child abuse? The courts think so reported that the Victorian Department of Human Services cited obesity in at least two child protection court cases. A spokesperson for the Department indicated that obesity is symptomatic of other issues which may warrant child protection action but that obesity is not itself a cause for state intervention.

Contributors: Ali Harwood and Vicki Xafis

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