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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

DD is overweight

(94 Posts)
howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 11:57:52

Can anyone help? 16 year old DD is gorgeous - really beautiful face - but she is overweight.

She was a normal-sized child and in the early part of her adolescence fine - normal BMI, although she's always edged towards the higher end of 'normal' but she's slammed on weight this year (GCSEs) and it's making her unhappy. My mum used to go on at me about my weight so I deliberately haven't mentioned it to DD, although I have supported her in other ways like signing her up for a posh gym.

We don't have cakes or biscuits or crisps in the house but I know she eats copious amounts when she's out with her friends, and goes to places like Macdonalds and KFC which all teenagers do. Yesterday for instance she had:

banana and grapes at breakfast (she doesn't really like breakfast so we've compromised on fruit) cup of tea with s-skimmed milk and one candrel tablet.

She went shopping and to the cinema with her mates in the afternoon and she had a pizza at Pizza Hut for lunch and a packet of crisps on the way back.

Then she had macaroni cheese and a yoghurt for tea. Cup of tea and apple before bed.

She is such a lovely, lovely girl - so cheerful and polite but she's a reader and doesn't enjoy exercise at all, never has. She will come for walks with me but that's it: doesn't like the gym, swimming or dancing. I don't want to go on at her but at the same time she is moving from a chubby but pretty girl to a girl who is properly 'fat' if you see what I mean and I am worried that it will get just too difficult to do anything about it if I leave it any longer.

Please help! I don't know what to do for the best!

Lancelottie Sun 23-Jun-13 12:59:56

OK, your DD is older than my girl, but idle-but-hardworking DD reluctantly accepted that actually, you'd exercise a dog, so you should probably treat yourself at least as well as a beloved pet.

When nagging, we tend to go down the line of 'better get some exercise for the sake of muscles/stamina/better sleep/bone strength', all of which is true.

She is Ok with:
pedometer (as above) -- do your 'prescribed' 10000 steps a day
swimming (though do need to avoid the cafe afterwards)
schlepping round town

tiptapkeyboard Sun 23-Jun-13 13:00:17

I think a lot of people don't particularly enjoy the gym/classes etc but do it because they can then wear that size 12 dress instead of the sixe 16 one.

HeySoulSister Sun 23-Jun-13 13:00:20

Low carb is just that.... Low, not 'no'

And it sounds like she is addicted to sugar.... Refined carbs, pizza,toast,cereal..... All high sugar . It doesn't have to be sweets/choc/cake to be a sugar addiction

Lancelottie Sun 23-Jun-13 13:00:44

Cross posts about the dog walking!

howtoapproachmydd Sun 23-Jun-13 13:06:52

Tiptap - have you read my posts? That's exactly what I've been saying about DD. She WILL do it but only if it helps her lose weight. She won't do it because we just happen to stumble on something she enjoys - she won't, believe me, I have been her mother for 16 years!

QueenCadbury Sun 23-Jun-13 13:13:42

How about doing something together like signing up for a 5k race later on in the summer and doing the training together? The challenge of that may get her going? It's a good short term achievable gol to aim for. The hope would be that she gets fit, loses weight and starts to enjoy it that she carries on.

I hated exercise until my late 20s and suddenly started running and swimming and now love it. I go a bit mad now if I don't get regular exercise. Emphasise the health benefits of exercise to her rather than just the weight loss benefits.

Do her friends do any exercise? Is there anything with them that she can join in with?

I agree about now putting her on a diet as such but instead looking at things like portion control and teaching her about hidden calories. Again, emphasise the health benefits of a healthy diet that her skin will be better etc.

Good luck.

melliebobs Sun 23-Jun-13 13:16:55

How about exercise that she doesn't get to do at school? She might fin something she loves and never knew?

How about boxing/boxercise?
Roller derby
See If there's a run challenge in your are (it's basically orienteering but with a quiz attached to it about the points you go to. It could be something you do together)
Maybe the classes at her gym?

Ring ur council, they'll have a sport development team and they'll e able to tell you what's going on that's a bit different

tiptapkeyboard Sun 23-Jun-13 13:20:59

OP yes I totally get them honest, I was agreeing with you smile Maybe she needs to consider how much she wants to be able to wear those size 10 clothes she spoke about.

The thing about exercise as well is the more you do it you sort of get addicted to it - endorphins or something!

If she wants help I would go to the gym with her 2x a week plus boxercise for say a month. Will be really hard to keep that up BUT - she might see the huge benefits of it and get hooked.

MerryOnMerlot Sun 23-Jun-13 13:22:53

Agree with others who have pointed out the high carb & sugar content of her diet.

Romann - that recommendation sounds great. Sugar & overly refined/processed food is the reason why obesity is such a major problem nowadays.

Exercise just isn't going to cut it here OP, especially with her reluctance to do it. Apart from being best for weight loss and curing addiction to sugar, low carb diets also dramatically reduce your appetite after about a week or so.

Cauliflower or sweet potato mash along with protein and green veg makes meals feel much more "normal". I've even come across a "pizza" recipe where the base is made of equal quantities of grated cauliflower and mozzarela (which my kids adore) so with a bit of research you can get very creative!

Punkatheart Sun 23-Jun-13 13:30:53

Firstly - you sound like a fantastic mum. You are being sensitive but also worrying about her health. My daughter is also a junk food monster and although not overweight, she is lacking in energy and makes herself unhappy with all the stuff she eats. It is hard - there seems to be a teenage 'thing' that they eat like this - high in fats and processed foods which give a great 'high' but don't help them at all.

So I understand fully but I think getting her involved in cooking, promoting lots of active stuff like walking etc is the only thing you can do. I ask my daughter to choose a fruit she has never tried and I do what I did when she was very small and I sneak in veg! Dance videos are good and fun.

It's never easy is it - but I wish you two luck. Whatever happens, she has a lovely mum.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 23-Jun-13 13:30:54


This isn't really an AIBU so we've moved it to Children's Health now. best of luck to the OP and her DD.

zoraqueenofzeep Sun 23-Jun-13 13:40:03

A bit of honesty won't harm her, saving her feelings today will only leave her with much more weight to lose ten years from now and a lot of damage to her self esteem and health. Tell her she's gained excessive weight and needs to cut out the junk food before it's too late. She needs to find activities that don't revolve around eating crap and get off her arse and start moving otherwise she will get very fat. Be blunt.

There's this fear that if you mention weight gain your going to magically push them into anorexia, that's bollox, many people allow their kids to get obese rather than educating them about basic nutrition and exercise but it's those who are too ignorant to know how to be healthily slender that get eating disorders, the fat kids have eating disorders too, that's why they're fat.

Frenchvanilla Sun 23-Jun-13 13:42:31

Sounds incredibly tricky.

I don't know what you do now but I would start by getting rid of all treaty things in the home, and cooking a simple, homemade healthy meal for the evening for her.

Is there a sport that you can both do together? I'm thinking yoga on a weekday evening and then a long family walk on the weekend?

How about signing up to learn a sport together? Something like skiing or rock climbing?

Lots of conversations about healthy eating- you can't control what she eats outside of the home any more, but talking about eating healthily and making good choices will help her to do this when she's by herself.

You sound like you're approaching it sensitively, so well done.

chocoluvva Sun 23-Jun-13 13:48:49

Junk food has SUCH a lot to answer for. I'm sure it's the reason for the increased levels of obesity.

Coffee shop 'fancy' coffees and a muffin can have several hundred calories in them eg and won't leave you feeling full.

If she feels she's made the discovery for herself, eg by reading the book recommended perhaps she'd avoid them more.

Low-carbing and/or eating protein at every meal will help you to feel full, but most people don't eat crisps and chocolate because they're hungry. They eat them because they're bored, or tempted by adverts.
I don't really know what the answer for her is. Providing really healthy, nutritious meals and not having breakfast cereal in the house should help a bit, as the more fruit and salady things you eat, the less easily tempted you are by things like crisps and chocolate. This is a good time of year for delicious berries and pineapples. Soon peaches, nectarines and melons will be in season.

If she could acquire a taste for fruit/herbal teas that might help.

I sympathise - (my DD, who's the same age is a bit chubby - which concerns me too) - very difficult and the best method of losing weight varies from person to person.

Would it be practical to 'kick-start' things by having a walking holiday or something like that? If she sees some weight coming off, she's likely to be motivated to continue.

Punkatheart Sun 23-Jun-13 14:07:14

I'm afraid I totally disagree zora. That could do enormous damage, as any child psychologist will tell you. I was at a psychologist's office the other day (my daughter has some anxiety/depression) issues) and I was talking to a psychologist who was removing all the awful Heat-style magazines that focus obsessively on women's bodies.

There are ways and means of educating a child about healthy eating. Telling them they are fat in such a blunt way is not going to helpful and shows no sensitivity whatsoever. And yes, it can lead to eating problems. If the person who cares for you, thinks you are fat, or ugly, or unpleasant - how do you think that will work on their psyche?

I talk about healthy eating with my daughter but I would never - have never - told her she is overweight. or any negative comment about her body.

PiratePanda Sun 23-Jun-13 14:21:11

Re exercise -- she doesn't need to do anything special, just walk her 10,000 steps a day. Perhaps get her a pedometer?

Research has recently found that sweet fizzy drinks are the absolute worst thing you can put in your body re weight gain, and artificial sweeteners make you feel hungrier than sugar so no help. Even if it's only a first step, she should be giving up softdrinks NOW.

D0oinMeCleanin Sun 23-Jun-13 14:45:19

I would start looking at small changes she could make that don't feel like a 'diet' in fact I would stop 'dieting' all together, most diets fail for a reason. They are often unsustainable and make you feel deprived, plus you are more likely to treat yourself for 'being good'. If your dd wants to lose weight and keep it off, then she's going to need to make changes that she can stick to for life and who would want to be on a diet forever?

Definitely cut the fizzy drinks and sweeteners out, they are the work of the devil according to my very qualified, very successful weightloss coach. They do make you hungrier. Change to water and/or herbal teas. Lots of water. Get her to carry a bottle of water everywhere. Even if that is the only change she makes it will make a huge difference.

I wouldn't do full on low carb, it's soul destroying, but I would balance carbs a bit more, so for example if she has a carb-high lunch, have no carbs at dinner (I like chicken and veg stir fries minus the noodles on these days or roasted root veg eg. parsnips, sweet potato, carrots, and philly stuffed chicken fillet wrapped in bacon)

When her friends all go to maccyds or KFC she is unlikely to want to miss out but would she make changes there, such as buying a mini fillet burger and small fries instead of a full meal and have water instead of soda? And then have a healthy, light dinner on those days to balance out the fat, carbs, cals for the day.

Limit processed foods to once a week. Eat fresh, real food. Nothing low fat or low sugar, they're often packed with aspartame and other nasties that actually help cause obesity rather than cure it.

I hate breakfast too but do find it helps. Would she be able to stomach a smoothie or meal replacement shake? I can manage those.

And yy to the walking/pedometer. Exercise alone will not help, but it will boost weightloss along with a healthy, clean diet.

Sirzy Sun 23-Jun-13 14:50:57

Sugar coating things and not being honest isn't going to do her any good in the long run, from what the op has said she knows she is overweight, she isn't happy so of course her mum needs to sit down and talk to her about it and help her take control.

NatashaBee Sun 23-Jun-13 14:57:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NatashaBee Sun 23-Jun-13 14:58:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LoveSewingBee Sun 23-Jun-13 15:07:14

I agree with others, your dd seems to have two problems:
1. Unhealthy, high fat, high carb food & drinks
2. Too little exercise

She is old enough to understand this and to understand the consequences.

You could help by only serving healthy food at home, including lots of fresh veg and fruit and put a strict limit on processed food.

I would sitdown with her and have an open and honest discussion about her concerns and your concerns.

I would be quite annoyed if dd was to ask for a gym membership and then only use it sporadically. Maybe she needs a bit of tough love ...

Lots of people rather sit in front of the TV rather than exercise. That is why there are so many fat people. Ultimately it is a matter of priorities and self-discipline.

MarshaBrady Sun 23-Jun-13 15:14:35

Talk about what a better diet would look like, your dd's is too carb /sugar and processed food heavy.

You don't have to shield children from the idea of healthy eating.

Or from promoting a healthier view of exercise. What about something like tennis? More fun than the gym as a teen.

Megsdaughter Sun 23-Jun-13 15:38:59

Would she use one of the phone app calories counters ? (more inline with a teenage thing, being on a phone?)

I use my fitness pal and find it easy to follow ad keep to.

tumbletumble Sun 23-Jun-13 16:55:20

Zora, your post assumes that the reason the OP's DD is overweight is a matter of ignorance - she hasn't realised that she is overweight, and/or she doesn't know what to do to solve the problem - so it is a simple matter of educating her.

Unfortunately the psychology of weight loss is a lot more complicated than that. I'm sure you know lots of people who know they are fat and try really hard to lose weight but struggle to succeed.

I'm not saying the OP should do nothing - not at all. A sensitive discussion acknowledging the issue and trying to come up with a plan of action together is one thing. Your suggestion of 'being blunt' is the bit I have a problem with.

OP, your DD sounds like a sensible girl and is old enough to decide for herself. Why not discuss the different suggestions with her and see what she thinks?

ClockWatchingLady Sun 23-Jun-13 20:10:00

OP, I just wanted to echo what others have said about this being a really tricky issue, and about it sounding like you're doing a great, thoughtful, caring job in trying to deal with it. Your DD sounds fab.

Zora - I just can't let this pass without comment: "it's those who are too ignorant to know how to be healthily slender that get eating disorders"

It just doesn't fit with scientific understanding or clinical experience. Eating disorders are, as a rule, very much not about ignorance and frequently occur in very knowledgeable and intelligent people with very knowledgeable, intelligent parents.

Best of luck, OP plus DD. I think others have said some wise things about carbs, etc.

Above all, for what it's worth, I'd say try not to let this worry you for too much time each day. Your DD sounds great, with so much going for her, and it sounds like she has a great mum, too.

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