Page last updated at 19:32 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

Weight worry sees child in care

A six-year-old Derby boy taken into care was overweight, it has been revealed.

It is the first time obesity has been listed by social services in the city as one of the reasons for taking a child away from its family.

The case emerged as figures showed one in four 10 and 11-year-olds in Derby are classified as obese or overweight.

But city council officials said weight would never be the primary factor in taking a child into care.

Health plans

The figures, taken from measurements made in schools, were part of a national survey but became public after a BBC Freedom of Information request.

While unable to comment on the case directly, cabinet member for children and young people Les Allen, emphasised many factors were considered before social services intervened.

"Being overweight would not be the determining factor in taking any child in to local authority care.

"The primary reason for taking a child into care is because where they are is not the best place for them, they are likely to be vulnerable and they will be safer and happier in local authority care."

No other specific details were available.

'Last resort'

Health managers said they were taking action to stop the number of overweight children from increasing further.

John Topham from NHS Derby City said they were working "to increase activity levels and improve healthy eating".

She added: "But those are going to take time to come into being and will take time to change the tide."

Dr Colin Waine, chair of the National Obesity Forum, said taking a child into care over its weight was a huge step.

"Such action should only be considered in the absolute last resort - indeed it might be an indication of a failure of systems that should have been in place before this circumstance arose.

"The emphasis must be on prevention and early intervention to educate mothers on healthy nutrition and monitoring of the child's development."

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