Courts face increase in care decisions where social workers are concerned about overweight children

Family court judges might be asked to consider more cases in which social workers are concerned about children’s weight, a lawyer has said.

News that two teenagers had been taken from the care of their parents after council social services staff told a judge of concerns about their weight emerged recently.

Judge Gillian Ellis had ruled that the youngsters should go into long-term foster care, describing the case as “very sad and unusual”.

Lawyer Graham Coy, who specialises in family court litigation and is based at Wilsons Solicitors, said judges might see more cases involving teenage obesity.

“I think we will,” he told the PA news agency.

“It is a serious issue which might not be receiving as much attention as it deserves.”

Mr Coy said social workers are unlikely to become involved merely because a child is obese.

“There are many reasons why a child might be overweight or obese, and these will not always be due to the care they receive, e.g. genetic,” he said.

“No-one, I think, is suggesting that every overweight or obese child might be taken into care.”

He added: “The local authority is likely to become involved only where the care which the child is receiving is not good enough and where the child is seriously suffering.”

Detail of the case involving the two teenage children emerged in a ruling by Judge Ellis published online earlier this month.

The judge had considered evidence at a private family court hearing in Sussex late in 2020.

She said the family could not be identified in media reports of the case.

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