Obesity in Children

Safeguarding Children

When does child obesity become child neglect?

Neglect is defined as the persistent failure to meet the child’s/young person’s basic physical/psychological needs that is likely to result in serious impairment of the child’s/young person’s health and development. 

It is quite easy when frontline staff attend an incident where they are faced with a young emaciated child, perhaps living in sub-standard conditions, to recognise the child may be suffering from neglect, and to raise concerns; but do we recognise the obese child suffering at the other end of the spectrum?

In addition to the physical consequences of obesity, the child may experience significant emotional and psychological distress.  Teasing and discrimination may cause low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

A disturbance in eating behaviour that is not associated with a recognised eating disorder may be a symptom of emotional or sexual abuse so must be dealt with very delicately, by the most appropriate professionals. 

Our safeguarding team is asking patient-facing staff to be aware of this type of child neglect, should any concerns become evident, it is important that a safeguarding referral be made so that a child-centred multidisciplinary assessment can be made. 

 Please see the safeguarding pages on East24.

Published 27th March 2018

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