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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 08:55 GMT
Care hearing due for obese child
Connor McCreaddie - ITV1/PA Wire
Connor prefers to eat processed foods

Health experts will discuss on Tuesday whether an eight-year-old boy who weighs over 14 stone (89kg) should be taken into local authority care.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has expressed concern about the case of Connor McCreaddie.

His mother, Nicola McKeown, has been called to a child protection conference with the local authority.

Connor, from Wallsend, North Tyneside, has lost some weight, but still prefers processed food to fruit and vegetables.

Family support may be offered, but the last resort would be for North Tyneside officials to place Connor into care.

I can't starve him
Nicola McKeown, Connor's mother

Mr Hewitt backed the involvement of local services in Connor's case.

She said it was vital that parents encouraged children to adopt a healthy lifestyle from an early age.

She said: "We have got a boy whose life and health have already been shockingly damaged because he is quite clearly eating the wrong food, and not able to take enough exercise.

"As I understand it social services and children's services are rightly very, very concerned about this boy, and are trying to make sure that they give him and his family every possible support in dealing with what is quite clearly a growing threat to this chld's health and happiness."

Connor's pre-Christmas weight of 15 stones and eight pounds (98.8kg) is four times the weight of a healthy child of his age.

He has lost weight after beginning an intensive exercise regime and introducing some healthy food into his diet.

The eight-year-old does have a bike and a trampoline which he uses, but he has to stop after around 10 minutes because he becomes out of breath and can vomit.

He has difficulty dressing and washing himself, misses school regularly because of poor health and is a target for bullies.

Confident

Ms McKeown, 35, told the BBC: "Connor had a mouthful of apple once and he didn't like it.

"He refuses to eat fruit, vegetables and salads - he has processed foods.

"When Connor won't eat anything else, I've got to give him the foods he likes.

"I can't starve him.

"But I'm confident I can get his weight down with a bit of help."

His life expectancy is severely prejudiced.
Dr Colin Waine, National Obesity Forum

Ms McKeown denied she is neglecting her son, and said he would be "skinny" if she had been.

She said she had seen doctors, but no-one had actually stepped in to offer her help.

She said that taking Connor into care would be "disastrous".

His story was due to be featured in ITV's Tonight With Trevor McDonald, which followed Connor and his mother for a month.

Child's interests 'paramount'

Dr Colin Waine, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said that removing a child from their family could be justified.

"The long-term impacts of this child's gross obesity are frightening.

"He has great risk of diabetes and coronary illness.

"His life expectancy is severely prejudiced. So action is required if his health is to be safeguarded."

A spokeswoman for North Tyneside Council and North Tyneside Primary Care Trust, said: "We share the concerns over the child's health and well-being.

"We have been working with the family over a prolonged period of time and will continue to do so.

"The child's interests are paramount."


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