Leading Article: A couple deemed too fat to foster

Share
Related Topics
AS SHOWN by the 46-stone Glamorgan couple banned as foster parents by their local council on grounds of obesity, seriously overweight people face many difficulties. Those who live in Western society are battered daily by images intended to convey an ideal stereotype. The message of the media, and of advertising in particular, is that all rational, healthy, normal and right- thinking people should strive to conform to these ideals. Women should be slim yet curvaceous; men tallish, muscular and, yes, slim - though since less of their body is generally on view, they will be less severely judged.

In our hearts we know these ideals are unrealistic and create considerable distress among those whose physiques are at odds with them. Yet most people find it hard not to be affected by the barrage of images. They may know it is unfair to be more favourably predisposed to the good-looking than to those deemed unprepossessing. But they cannot suppress such reactions.

A special brand of censoriousness is reserved for the seriously obese. They are held solely responsible for their condition, and for not exercising the degree of self-control supposedly needed to correct it. To make matters worse, the effect of their excessive intake of food is permanently on display, unlike the effects of heavy smoking or drinking (though the latter can contribute to overweight). Yet there is something akin to racism in the 'sizeism' or 'lookism' that condemns them, not least because obesity is often triggered not by self-indulgence but by a genetic predisposition towards it.

The doctor's letter explaining the South Glamorgan council's ruling speaks broadly of 'lifestyle in terms of the eating patterns demonstrated to a young child', of limitations to mobility, and the 'quite profound psychological disturbance' commonly associated with people with this degree of excess weight.

Ostensibly, such considerations do not seem to justify a blanket ban on fostering. At their present weight of almost 26 stone and just over 20 stone, the couple concerned may not be well suited to looking after a hyperactive three-year-old boy. But if they had the right sort of temperament they could be extremely good for an older child who needed, say, loving care, firm guidance and a sympathetic audience. There is little doubt that serious obesity reduces the expectation of life in several senses. But it is hard to see why, in principle, it should exclude success as a foster parent.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst,HR,Halifax,£400-450pd

£400 - £450 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Project Coordinator - Cisco Partner - £110 p/d

£110 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Project Coordinator (SC Cleared), Cisco Go...

Recruitment Consultants - IT - Trainee / Experienced

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40-50K first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Primary teachers needed for supply in Huntingdon

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers need...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

August catch-up: genius of Apple, fools and commercial enterprises, and the Queen

John Rentoul
Tory whips were anxiously ringing round the “usual suspects” following Douglas Carswell's defection to Ukip  

i Editor's Letter: Douglas Carswell's defection

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone