Laura Sharman 03 September 2020

Half of professionals feel childhood obesity is a child protection issue

Nearly half of health and social workers believe child obesity should be considered a child protection issue, according to a new study.

A small study of 23 participants by academics at Sheffield Hallam University found 10 believed obese children should potentially be removed from parents who do not try to reduce their child’s weight.

The research found that personal beliefs and values about obesity and parenting skills were affecting threshold judgements and referral decisions.

Dr Catherine Homer, Sheffield Hallam research fellow and report co-author, said: 'The questions we should be asking are whether, by taking a child protection approach, we are passing the problem of child obesity to families and then blaming them when they fail to help their child lose weight and, in so doing, ignore the clear links between obesity and disadvantage. Or could a child protection approach act as a catalyst for families who fail to engage and take up support as well as a gateway to more intensive support.

'There's a real opportunity to address these issues now. Failure to do so will lead to potentially lasting damage to each child’s health and well-being.'

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