Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Connor's Conundrum: Should A Child Be Removed From His Family For Being Fat?

8-year old Connor McCreaddie is pushing 200 pounds

Have you heard the story about the 196-pound third-grader in the UK? Yep, you heard me right! This kid is almost TWO-HUNDRED POUNDS right now! Jeepers creepers!

His name is Connor McCreaddie and this 8-year old little boy ain't so little anymore--he already weighs as much as many full-grown adult men do. And now child protective services has issued a warning to his mother for Connor to lose weight or else they will take him away from her on grounds of neglect.

Nicola McKeown, Connor's mother who lives in Wallsend, North Tyneside in Great Britain, says she realizes Connor is four times the weight he should be for his age. To her credit, she has tried to help him lose weight through an unknown diet program since December when he weighed in at a whopping 218 pounds (that's almost what I weigh!).

Despite losing 21 pounds over the past couple of months, though, McKeown recently got an official letter representing child protective services, Connor's school principal, and the local health agency requesting her to appear before them to determine whether she is really doing enough to help Connor lose weight or not. If not, then they have already threatened to remove Connor from her care to give him the help he needs.

Let me just interject my comments about this here for a moment. While I agree Connor didn't balloon up to 200+ pounds instantly and overnight, I definitely wouldn't describe what McKeown has done as neglect. Maybe you can call it bad parenting or if you wanted to get extreme with it--child abuse--but definitely NOT neglect. If anything, it sounds like Connor has been getting TOO MUCH attention.

Actually, it sounds like he runs the household.

Although his mother has to help him get dressed and take him to the doctor a lot because of obesity-related health complications (has her pediatrician NEVER said a word to her about Connor's weight?!), she says Connor refuses to eat any fruits or vegetables and will only eat processed junk foods. Plus, she said Connor cries for food virtually every hour on the hour until he gets what he wants.

See, that right there is the crux of the problem. In her attempt to show love to her son, McKeown has actually been an enabler in Connor's weight problem by refusing to be the parent. A mother most of the time has to go against the will of her child to do what is best for him whether he understands that it's for his own good or not.

If Connor refuses to eat fruits and vegetables, then McKeown should refuse to serve anything but those foods. No, that's not being cruel to him, but rather it is showing him there is a right and wrong way to eat. Clearly, the junk food is not helping him at all, so removing those foods from his diet altogether will begin to m make a big difference. At some point he'll get hungry enough to even eat these foods McKeown thinks he'll never eat.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that's not what McKeown will do for her son. Instead, she'd rather let him sit for hours upon hours in front of a computer screen playing games (why isn't he outside running around like most other 8-year olds?!) with an endless supply of all the garbage food his mother provides him, including curries, sausage sandwiches, biscuits, burgers, potato chips, and French fries. EWWWW! Wanna guess what most of those foods have in common? Can you say carbs, carbs, and more carbs?! UGH!

When a child like Connor is coddled too the extent that he is, then it can lead him to believe that he really is in charge and calls all the shots. From a nutritional standpoint, that is devastating because most kids don't have a clue what is good for them. All they want is food that tastes good no matter what it's made of because there are no consequences for doing so.

Usually the food most kids prefer is highly processed, carb-loaded, sugary junk foods--something his mother apparently is providing in great abundance. Caring parents who want their child to develop into strong, healthy, and fit adults will do whatever they can to provide the best nutritional options by setting the right example for them early enough in life so that child will make good choices for themselves in the future.

Wanna know what McKeown's excuse is for letting Connor's weight to get as high as it has? She believes she has not received enough help to know how to raise her kid properly. Ya know, that sorta begs the question--why did you have a child back in 1999 if you couldn't take care of him in the first place? Gasp! Nobody is supposed to ask that question, but I just did!

Needless to say, we can't turn back the clock now, but Connor does need some serious help. He is at risk at this moment for major health problems beginning at a much younger age than he should, not the least of which is the onset of diabetes, heart disease, and morbid obesity by the time he reaches his 20's which could end his life before he turns 30. That's some heavy stuff to think about, but it is Connor's reality right now.

Nobody is gonna argue that Connor should be left to continue down this path that his mother has chosen for him which for all intents and purposes is destroying his life if left unchanged. But what concerns me about this story is the not-so-veiled threat she has been given to make Connor lose weight or else they'll take himaway from her. What's up with that kind of intimidation and on what authority can they issue such a warning to McKeown?

The government, school, and anyone outside of McKeown's family doesn't have any business telling her what she needs to do about Connor's weight. This is a personal issue that needs to be hashed out by the family. From all accounts, Connor is not being physically (other than allowing his weight to explode) or emotionally (except by the teasing of his classmates in school) abused, so such a drastic measure as removing him from her care is irrational. What are they gonna do with him once he does lose the weight in the custody of the government, hmmm? Foster care? Adoption?

This is one of those unintended consequences of promoting the same old low-fat, low-calorie, portion control dietary recommendations that we've been forced to endure for generations by our government and health leaders. How many parents have tried to put their overweight or obese child on one of these diets only to have their child reject it because it wasn't the right diet for them? Too many to count, I'm sure!

You know, Connor would do very well if he started livin' la vida low-carb and I would venture to say he would not balk at the delicious choice of foods he could eat while bringing his weight back down into a healthier range. Scrumptuous and yummy cuts of meat, cheeses, low-glycemic fruits, non-starchy vegetables, eggs...the list goes on and on. McKeown could start feeding him that way immediately and see real results.

Unfortunately, she will likely never hear a word about the amazing low-carb way of eating from these people threatening to take Connor away from her. But it sounds like exactly what he needs to do to lose weight as soon as possible. I don't know what McKeown is doing to help Connor shed the pounds since before Christmas, but she should consider putting him on a program like Atkins, South Beach, or Protein Power.

What do you think about Connor's conundrum? Do you think the UK authorities have the right to threaten McKeown and take Connor away to a "fat farm" somewhere to get him back into shape again? Or do you agree with me that this is a personal matter that needs to be handled within Connor's family and it's nobody else's business to tell McKeown how to raise her child?

There should be lots of varying opinions about this, so don't be bashful! Let me know what you think!

3-1-07 UPDATE: Now here is a unique take on why Connor may be as obese as he is:

My daughter is a caretaker of several retarded adults and she works for an adult day service that provides daycare for adults in need. When I first read about little Connior McCreaddie, I immediately thought of the adults in her care who suffer from a syndrome called Prader-Willi. Patients with PWS cannot stop eating, her clients eat vast amounts of vegetables to satisfy this insatiable need and this is the only way to somewhat control their weight. Their entire focus daily is obtaining food and these patients need to be closely monitored.

Here is a press release about Connor that I found on the Prader-Willi web site. It seems others have had the same thought that I have! I do so hope they complete the hormone studies before they disrupt this family! Nonetheless, I KNOW that low-carb is the ONLY way to save this little boy in the meantime as these studies are being made.

By the way, I really enjoy your "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog!

THANKS for sharing about Prader-Willi. I hadn't heard of it before, but it could be what Connor is dealing with.

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Blogger Sparky's Girl said...

I think if the government really wants to do what is best for this child, they will make all the resources needed available to the mother so she can help him. They should help her find the best plan for him(which would most likely be low-carb), get him enrolled in some kind of physical activity, and offer encouragment when needed.

You wanna make it worse? Take the kid away from familiar surroundings, loved ones and securites. Then stress him further by putting him in a fat farm and making him feel like a complete loser. Yeah.. that'll help.. it'll help him develop severe emotional issues, which in all likelyhood will trigger emotional/stress eating once he's out again.

As you said, the mother needs to be the parent here. My kids would eat McDonalds 24/7 if I'd allow it. (Bleck.. why kids like some of that stuff I have NO idea) My daughter thinks sugar is a food group. I have to monitor what they eat all the time and make sure they have healthy choices. I also try to explain to them why it's important to make healthy choices. And you know what? At age 10 and 8 they get it! They don't always like it, but they get it.

I hope someday this young man will "get it" too and live a long and healthy life.

2/28/2007 11:34 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

In fact this is up-side-down: McKeown should be sueing the Government and the school and all these other bloody "do-gooders" for their lies, their misguiding and misinforming her in every possible way on how to feed her child!

Instead of them having the gall to threaten her with inhumane, outright draconian measures like taking the child away, which is the most miserable thing one can do to a mother, SHE should be legally prosecuting these bloody bureaucrats for neglect and spreading falsehoods!

Of course McKeown has a responsibility as a parent, but ultimately it is not McKeown, but instead the Government that is primarily and DIRECTLY responsible for extremities like this. McKeown, like all of us, has been (and still is) exposed to the overwhelming daily barrage of lies and deceptions and delusions of these so-called "experts" and assorted Gov't hypocrites. And now that the sour fruits of their simplistic dietary Jihad becomes annoying to them, they have the nerve to blame the victims! It is bloody incredible!

The hypocrisy, the injustice and breathtaking stupidity of do-gooders" like these never ceases to make me STEAMING mad!

Remember that the other day we were speculating a little bit with "big-brother" scenarios? Well, if Gov't has it's way, things like these are just the beginning...

3/01/2007 2:33 AM  
Blogger Ahavah bat Sarah said...

Why isn't he outside running around like most other 8-year olds?!

Newsflash: nobody lets children run around outside to play anymore, because 1) we don't trust them or their friends to play unsupervised and stay out of trouble, and 2) paranoia about child abductions. And since no adults have the time to sit out there and watch the kids play (which the kids wouldn't want anyway) they don't go out and play.
The days are long past when kids can leave after school and be gone until dinner, or after dinner until bedtime. Where have you been? Even better: If you did do this, child services would say you weren't supervising your kids properly the second one did something stupid or was influenced by a teenager in a bad way.

As for the food problem, no child ever starved to death with food in front of it, that's a fact. But this mom clearly isn't willing or able to put up with the enfante terrible she's created and will have to deal with during the transition process. And that basically makes her unfit to have custody, IMHO. And yes, I have children, and no, they aren't fat. Healthy eating habits need to start in infancy if you want healthy kids - if you're getting a late start, it's a lot harder. I understand her problem, but if she can't change her ways, then the child's health is in danger.

3/01/2007 8:09 AM  
Blogger Calianna said...

There's an update on Conner - They've made a deal to allow him to stay in his mother's care.

Another child is in the UK news who is just as big as Conner.,,2007090577,00.html

That whole URL may not show, so here's a rundown of the article:

Samantha is 9, weighs 14 stone (196 lbs, the same as Conner), and wears size 18 (which is the equivalent of US ladies 14). She admits her addiction to Galaxy chocolate bars, using her allowance to buy a BIG one every day to eat on the the way home from school.

Her mom has tried not providing all that excess food, but like Conner's mom, tends to succumb to crying and screaming, because she knows that if she doesn't provide it, her daughter will find some other way to get it. She has even put a lock on the kitchen door. However, Samantha is so determined that she searches the house until she finds the key, and then eats what she wants anyway.

While her daily home diet isn't anything to be proud of, the school isn't helping any, because they provide such sugary and starchy meals as: "Spaghetti Bolognese, or sausages and mash with sweetcorn, chips. Also dessert of rice pudding or apple crumble with custard."

I remember reading somewhere that both Conner and Samantha are 5 ft tall - which is quite tall for their ages. So something else may be going on there (with their endocrine systems, perhaps), other than just children whose parents can't seem to parent properly and provide a good diet.

3/01/2007 10:52 AM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

Unfortunitly IQ and intellergense play in here. The unfortunite fact being that low IQ is common in our modern society. How much sugar/caffeine related this low IQ is and how much related sugar/caffeine is related to higher and high IQ is up for grabs. I say a lot. How we gonna fix all this illness? Obviously this mother and child need help. The question is, how to help them. Compounding all of this, is how much mention there is of a father and other males in this setting? Good work Jimmy.

3/01/2007 11:36 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

IQ certainly may play a role here. Indeed, like one of Jimmy's readers remarked in a email to him (see update), his enormous appetite may be manifest because he suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome. Prader-Willi causes part of the brain's signal-pathways not to develop properly, causing certain serotonin receptors ("information receivers") not to operate properly or to be blocked. In other words, one of the signals that doesn't come through (is not received) is the "enough" signal: satiety is not or insufficiently signalled.

There are a few alternative treatments for this condition, and HGH (Human Growth Hormone) has been shown to be helpful as well.

Although generally believed to be a genetic disorder, many researchers (including me) are convinced that a lack of essential fats during the early years, when the endocrine and nervous ("signal") system of the brain is formed, are the real, primary causational factor here.

In other words: it might very well be that his low-fat diet damaged his brain... would be interesting to investigate this. A probable "red flag" here would be him not having received breast-feeding, or very limited. That's why mother's milk is so crucially important during infancy, up to the 2nd year: it contains a very high fat and cholesterol content, all essential for proper brain development of the child.

Now that things are out of hand, a low-carb dietary regimen supplemented with HGH and other vitanutrients and minerals may very well improve this condition (and weight) considerably.

Who are responsible for that bloody low-fat diet again? Oh yeah, those "do-gooders"...

3/01/2007 8:43 PM  
Blogger Diamondwife said...

I also work with adults with developmental disabilities and have done so for many years. I have had opportunity to work with a couple of folks who have Prader-Willi syndrome. This boy likely does not have this syndrome. Prader-Willi is accompanied by a short stature, small hands and feet and other facial deformities that are just not present here. Another major component is mental retardation that I don't believe this boy was reported to have.

3/01/2007 8:52 PM  
Blogger JeriD said...

Allowing an 8 year old to reach 200 lbs IS physical abuse of a child. The boy is not old enough to make informed decisions about his care. If she were feeding him nothing but dog or cat food, you would be aghast and support taking this child out of her care. This is the same type of abuse. She is slowly killing him by not parenting him and neglecting to provide him appropriate diet and nourishment.

3/02/2007 12:34 AM  
Blogger Hellistile said...

This child is hungry all the time because he is eating nothing but carbs and his body is starving for nutrients. And you know what carbs do for the appetite, the more you eat the hungrier you become.

His mother doesn't know any better because she's been getting all the mixed signals about dietary nutrition being spouted by the dietary gurus. She's just confused as are a lot of people out there. Not everyone has made it their business to research nutrition on their own.

If the government does take the child away from it's mother, they will have little success with his weight and mental condition.

3/02/2007 2:48 PM  
Blogger JeriD said...

most of us have children, have received the same misinformation and our kids don't weigh 200 lbs at age 8. My kids have been in the right weight for their heights all their lives and are now pretty trim 24 and 28 year olds.

It sounds like this mother doesn't have a clue about knowing how to parent him and isn't being the adult in the situation.

I watched my sister-in-law do similar things with her kids; while they didn't get to 200 lbs at age 8; both are obese at ages 11 and 12 and having physical problems, including showing signs of type II diabetes. She caves in constantly to their demands for sugary treats and doesn't know how to say "no."

I think that mother in London should be given a supervised chance to succeed but she has to grow up herself, learn to be the parent and stick to her guns (if she has them) regarding what this child is allowed to consume. When I look at that picture of this boy, it is of a child who looks pleased to be the center of attention for his size.

3/02/2007 8:27 PM  

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