An Ohio third-grader who weighs more than 200 pounds has been taken from his family and placed into foster care after county social workers said his mother wasn't doing enough to control his weight.

 

The Cleveland 8-year-old is considered severely obese and at risk for such diseases as diabetes and hypertension. The case is the first state officials can recall of a child being put in foster care strictly for a weight-related issue.

 

Lawyers for the mother say the county overreached when authorities took the boy last week. They say the medical problems he is at risk for do not yet pose an imminent danger.

 

A spokeswoman said the county removed the child because caseworkers saw his mother's inability to reduce his weight as medical neglect.

 

The Cleveland Health Department estimates that more than 12 percent of third-graders statewide are severely obese.

 

Nationwide, one in three children is overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, or other health conditions, according to federal health officials. Michelle Obama, the president's wife, has embarked on a program to help youngsters maintain a healthy weight by eating better and getting more exercise.

 

James Gavin, chairman of the board of the Partnership for a Healthier America, said the current generation of children is projected to be the first that will grow up to be sicker and live shorter lives than the generation before it. The organization was created to work with the private sector to help reduce childhood obesity.

 

She has called on food processors, distributors and restaurants to promote healthy foods and healthy eating habits for children.

 

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press