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Weight problem in teens/preteens

(5 Posts)
Cynd8314515 Mon 25-Mar-13 19:31:41

Just new and trying to find my way around. Couldn't find a place to introduce myself (is there one?) so thought I'd just tell you a little here, and ask some opinions on this. Sorry if it is really long!

I am a (single) parent of 5 children- I say children, they are actually aged 12-22, 4 boys and one girl. They all live at home except the oldest.

I have a concern about my family and I fear it makes me seem like a bad mum (I sometimes feel that way, certainly!). All my children are overweight/obese so varying extents. It has seemed to have followed the same pattern with all of them; they were all probably slightly bigger than average as kids, but nothing that worried me. I suppose at the time, with the older ones at least, there was less focus on childhood obesity and such like and people just generally beleived in 'puppy fat'. I don't think many people find it easy to tell if their own child is overweight, so I suppose I never saw their weights as a problem. However, it has seemed to be always that once they reach 12/13 (around the age where it gets particularly hard to control a child's diet all the time, as they get more independent), they all put on a lot of weight in their teens.

I feel very guilty that I let this happen to all my children. I wish I'd worried more at the time, instead wrongly imagining they'd slim down as they grew older, and thought more about our habits as a family. The youngest two aren't that big, and I want to be able to make changes to prevent that happening. Within the last few years I've been trying to cook from scratch, or at least healthily, as much as I can, and there arent many complaints about this. However, my older 3 boys are often snacking- not so much from food we have at home, but things they buy to and from school etc. I try to discourage this but am met with quite a lot of resistance, also when I try and encourage exercise. The impression I get is that they are not concerned themselves at all, so see no good reason too. Their nature is such that I canbe quite blunt, but this does not seem to influence them. This is particularly true of my 16yr old son, whose weight problem is really quite significant, the most of all 5. He has expressed that he is aware he is obese, but basically doesn't care. Not that I'd like them to feel self loathing and such, but I think they are all quite blase.

Without wanting to defer responsibility, I find it hard sometimes to get much control, in relation to the older ones, as they have a lot of independence in deciding what to do and eat each day, and as I say, don't have the motivation/attitude to change. I wonder what I can do to help.

I wish I'd addressed it sooner, and I hope it is soon enough to intervene with the younger ones before it becomes a serious problem, or I forsee them going along with the habits of the older ones. I don't want to make a big issue, especially to my daughter, I know 12 yo girls can be very sensitive about this sort of thing, but I do want to address thing before they get worse.

Sorry for such a long boring post. Any help would be appreciated.

gordonpym Tue 26-Mar-13 22:21:23

You can't control what they eat outside your house, but you do the shopping and the cooking so at least at home, they'll have healthy food. Go with plenty of chicken breast, tomato and tuna salad, .... Go to your local library and take some books about low fat, low carb cooking. Stop buying crisps (if you buy any), ditto chocolate, coke, ... Try to insert new house rules, such as no meals watching tv.
But best of all, be the model, even if you don't need to lose weight, you can improve your diet and life style. Don' t preach exercice, but start doing some yourself.
Last, did you talk to your GP? You'll need all the help you can get.

silverbeetle Thu 28-Mar-13 09:22:45

Hi [Cynd]
I have a similar problem with DS who's 13. As a small child there was no problem with his weight, but in the last few years the weight has really gone on. As a family we are quite weight / health conscious and DH and I always cook good healthy meals. I admit that I do but biscuits and enjoy baking but I've had to stop this as DS has no self control and easily chomps his way through a packet of biscuits. As you say it's difficult to stop them as they are big enough now the help themselves and buy their own sweets and snacks. It's not a problem for the rest of the family as myself and DH can take or leave this stuff and his older DD seems to be able to eat as much as she wants and doesn't put on any weight - very lucky. However I have started to get really concerned over his weight and know that if he can't get his eating under control now he will have big problems as an adult. It's always difficult with growing children to know what to do as they are still growing and dieting is not always a good idea but it was clear that if he continued eating the way he was he would not grow into his body but out of it.

I am speaking from bitter experience as I was also a fat child and remember how hard it was at school. You say you don't care but in fact you do, the thought of doing something about it just seems too enormous to tackle. The turning point for me came at age 13 when I was asked to be a bridesmaid and the dressmaker had to buy a size 18 pattern for my dress. I was so embarrassed I just couldn't wear this awful tent and have people looking at me. With the support of my Mum and calorie counting I got the weight off but I still have to constantly watch my weight. The support is so important, as a child / teen the mountain just seems too big to climb and you have no idea how to tackle the problem, plus there is so much else going on.I remember my Mum planning how 'we' were going to do this, so it felt like a team effort.

So with this in mind and getting back to the situation with my DS. Like your DS he didn't seem that bothered but I knew he was, little things like not wanting to go to the shops for me in case he saw some of his old friends. So I tried to find a way of shocking him into wanting to do something. It just so happened there was some programmes on the TV about obese people and the dreadful health problems they have as they get bigger and bigger. After the programmes we had a chat and I could see he was shocked / upset by them, I explained that unless he was careful he could end up like that and I was very concerned and was thinking about taking him to see the GP, but if 'we' take action now he doesn't have to and he will be able to lose the excess weight. He also knew I was doing the 5:2 diet and although I'm only a few lbs overweight I explained that it's important to control your weight no matter how old you are. He agreed that he wanted to do something and I said I would help him but he must really want to do this for himself. He said he was frightened to get on the scales but he would as we need a starting point. I suggested approaching it a bit like an experiment (he loves science) but we must keep it simple and doable. Our plan was for him to eat 3 healthy portion controlled (by me or DH) meals a day but absolutely NO SNACKING. If he felt hungry he was to have a glass of water, black coffee or a cup of Boullion soup. Wait at least 20 mins and if still hungry he could have an apple or pear then wait until the next meal. He was also to try and drink 8 glasses of water each day and eat 2 pieces of fruit. I made a chart to record all this and also his weight on a daily basis. The first day was hard but we're now on day 4 and he's really motivated and seems excited and says he actually feels better. I know it's early days but so far so good and I'm determined to support him with this.

Sorry for the long post but I understand how you feel. They do need your support with this, good luck.

Cynd8314515 Thu 28-Mar-13 22:36:38

Thanks so much for the replies. Silver beetle, the ways you found to engage your son in this and help him are really lovely and I am so glad to hear it is going well so far... very best of luck to you! I hope I can find a similar way to encourage my youngest too. I don't think they have a lot to lose, maybe still that they could 'grow into it' as they get taller. So I think maybe I will take the perspective of explaining that as they are growing into adults they need to be healthy and have a good diet, rather than focussing on weight loss itself. As I say, I want to be really tactful how I address this with my daughter. The idea of using TV programmes as a starting point for discussion sounds good, as does involving them in selecting recipes and enjoying cooking proper food.

I will have to try and think how I can get my 16yo son to get involved with this. He is a typical teenager I suppose- if I was to try and impose rules about snacking and things, I can see him just going to the chip shop! However, it is not as if he has much money of his own, so maybe I will have to say I will reduce his allowance if he is to spend it this way! That is one thing he probably will listen to! I do suspect he isn't fully happy as he is, because he is so much bigger than most boys, and I know he has received some unpleasant comments. I think it is pride that stops him showing this, but sometimes I wish he would talk about it, it would be some kind of motivation or starting point. To be honest I just don't know what to do, and if he keeps going this is going to massively impact on his health while he is still young even.

Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

Globalfuturefit Mon 01-Apr-13 16:37:06

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