Nov. 28, 2011 at 4:07 PM ET
An 8-year-old Ohio boy weighing 200 pounds was taken from his family last month and put into foster care by officials who said his mother wasn't doing enough to control his weight. That was the wrong call, says Arthur Caplan, an msnbc.com contributor and professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
"I think it's a bad policy," Caplan told Tamron Hall, host of MSNBC's NewsNation. "Moving kids out of the home is wrenching for them, they're going to live with strangers. You're creating emotional turmoil."
Caplan, an msnbc.com contributor, says the solution is working with the entire family to change behavior. "The problem with an overweight child doesn't end with the child and moving him out of the house because he's going to come back to the house. You're going to have to figure out ways to change bad habits with the whole family."
Caplan noted that the child may also be indulging outside of his mother's watch. "This parent, unless you're going to monitor the kid 365-days a year, 24 hours a day, who knows where [he] may be getting the food. [The parent] may be making the effort to get the kid to be less obese."
Not only is it bad for the child to be taken from his home, it's bad for the foster care system as well, he said.
"It can't be the right answer to turn to foster care. There are too many overweight kids. You'd overwhelm the foster care system if this became the policy."
Caplan also fears that children from low-income parent homes with limited access to healthy foods will be targeted.
"Does anyone really think a 200-pound kid in a rich family household out in the burbs is going to be put into foster care? Because I don't. I think it's going to fall mainly on the single moms, on the poor since they don't have the resources to resist this. Plus, we have no reason to think this will work. There's no study that shows taking kids out of the home and putting them somewhere else is going to make him skinnier."
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Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters.