Council threatening to take obese children into care

ST HELENS Council is considering the rare step of starting legal proceedings to take two children into care because of fears over their obesity levels.

The Star has learned that the parents of a teenage girl and toddler have been threatened with care proceedings.

It is understood that social workers fear the girls’ weight is putting them at risk of serious health problems.

The council has declined to comment on the case. However, it is understood this would represent the first occasion in which it has attempted to take children into care because of obesity.

The subject is highly emotive and the parents of the children are distraught, arguing they have spent the last 12-months desperately trying to reduce the girls’ weight.

They say the teenager is 17 stone and the other girl, aged under five, is three stone. The mother said a number of targets had been set to reduce the children’s weight and insist they have fulfilled every objective.

She said: “They were both placed on a child protection plan because they said it was neglect. Now they (social workers) are taking the matter to court.

“But my children are my life.”

She said the girls are active with daily two hour walks in parks and added that the teenager attends special gym sessions and swimming lessons.

The girls’ father added: “The eldest was sent to a boot camp. The doctor at hospital was made up with the weight she has lost. They said she should lose only 2½lb a week. To lose any more could damage her health.

“Social workers told us they would give us so long to try on our own.”

Figures published by the Child and Maternal Health Observatory for March 2012 show that in St Helens ten per cent of children in reception classes and more than a fifth in the older girl’s age group are classed as obese.

The council has pledged to reduce these figures to 9.5 per cent and 19 per cent by 2013/14.

A St Helens Council spokesman declined to go into detail, saying the local authority cannot comment on an individual cases.

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