Obese Children Will Be Taken Into Care, Parents Are Warned
Dangerously overweight children will be taken into care if the obesity epidemic continues, council chiefs warned yesterday.
The fattest youngsters should be seen as examples of ‘parental neglect’ and handed over to social workers, according to the Local Government Association.
Its warning came as figures showed the rising cost of dealing with overweight children – a cost that is increasingly borne by the taxpayer.
As parents are putting children’s health in danger, councils are having to consider taking action, a government spokesman said
A report by the LGA, which represents 400 authorities in England and Wales, has warned that Britain is fast becoming the ‘obesity capital of the world’.
Officials say that as the problem continues to worsen, councils will be forced to step in by putting children under review and offering help and advice to parents.
And the LGA confirmed that obese children would be taken into care, but only in the worst case scenarios.
Several councils, including Tower Hamlets in East London, have already been forced to take action and obesity has been a factor in at least 20 child protection cases in the past year.
Each year in England 220,000 more children become overweight or obese and the problem is showing no sign of stopping.
It has been estimated that by 2012 a million English children will be obese and by 2025 around a quarter of all boys will be classified as dangerously overweight.
But the costs of social workers dealing with overweight children is just one impact of the epidemic.
Schools are having to buy bigger chairs because so many pupils are getting fatter, the GLA said.
And it is not only new chairs that are needed.
Schools are buying bigger classroom tables, while furniture in gyms and canteens is having to be made wider for larger children for children with larger girths.
David Rogers, LGA spokesman on public health, called for a national debate about the extent to which dangerous childhood obesity could be considered as a factor contributing to parental neglect.
He added: ‘Obesity is increasingly costing the council taxpayer dear.
‘It falls to social services to care for the housebound obese adults, to invest money in encouraging people to be active and to replace school furniture that is just too small for larger pupils.
‘Council equipment and infrastructure is having to be modified to deal with a population that is getting larger and larger.
‘The nation’s expanding waistline threatens to have a devastating impact on our public services. It’s a massive issue for public health but it also risks placing unprecedented pressure on council services.’
The GLA report also warned that the obesity crisis means ambulances will have to be re-equipped with extra-wide stretchers and winches.
Buses and trams will soon accommodate fewer, larger passengers, the report said.
Listing a string of examples, the LGA said crematoria furnaces were also having to be widened at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds.
Last month it emerged that BhS is selling size 18 school dresses for overweight girls as part of a new ‘generous fit’ range for those who cannot get into its normal sizes.
And John Lewis is stocking boys’ blazers up to a 48in chest and trousers up to a 40in waist, sizes normally worn by large adults.
Yesterday Professor David Hunter, a Government adviser, warned that obesity poses as grave a threat to Britain and the NHS as terrorism.
The public health expert criticised ministers for failing to take ‘bold action’ to tackle the crisis.