Social services will increasingly have to step in to protect dangerously overweight children, the Local Government Association has warned.
The LGA is calling for a national debate about the extent to which dangerous childhood obesity could be considered as a factor contributing to parental neglect. The response comes as the Department of Health yesterday revealed that obesity could cost the NHS £6.3bn by 2015 in a toolkit detailing how the health service and councils need to work closer together to tackle the issue.
The LGA said councils will become increasingly involved in cases where parents are judged to be putting their children’s health at risk through overeating, which until now have been isolated. As obesity becomes more of a problem, councils will be expected to provide more advice to parents and keep children’s welfare under review.
Few parents recognise risk to obese children
Just 11% of parents with overweight or obese children recognise their child is at risk, according to the DH.
David Rogers, LGA spokesperson on public health, said: “Councils are increasingly having to consider taking action where parents are putting children’s health in real danger. As the obesity epidemic grows these tricky cases will keep cropping up.
“There needs to be a national debate about the extent to which it is acceptable for local authorities to take action in cases where the welfare of children is in real jeopardy.”
An LGA spokesman said the association would be canvassing views from social care and health experts on when councils should intervene over the welfare of obese children. Opinions can be expressed through the Communities of Practice website.
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