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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!

ClockWatchingLady Sun 23-Jun-13 20:10:02

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.

SugarMouse1 Sun 30-Jun-13 14:56:09


Does she like animals? Could you get a dog to encourage her to walk it more?

Get a trampoline at home?

specialsubject Sun 30-Jun-13 15:02:26

it's simple - she is taking in more calories than she burns off. That is a lot of high-calorie food and not a lot of nutrition. It should all be taught at school (is it? Is she listening?) and she needs to realise that she must eat less crap. MuckyDs and Pizza Slut are occasional treats, not regular things.

she needs to eat properly and move around more. Plenty of ways to be active, we'd all rather blob on the sofa but that is how you end up shaped like the sofa.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 30-Jun-13 15:11:17

Two things strike me reading your posts OP.

1 - she ate no vegetables that day, and only 2-3 pieces of fruit.

2 - you say that you are overweight, and also your DH is. That suggests that portion sizes are too big in your house and that she doesn't see exercise as a normal part of daily life.

Anything you say to her is going to fall on deaf ears because she will be thinking 'well it can't be that unhealthy because Mum and Dad are fat and not doing anything about it.'.

You need to set a better example, both of you do.

Lancelottie Mon 01-Jul-13 11:38:19

Mmm, but OP also says she has two whippet-like boys. I similarly have one plump one and two skinny beanpoles damn their unhelpful stringy frames and I can tell you that it's really hard not to make a point of it when one child needs to eat less than the other two.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 01-Jul-13 11:47:04

Lancelottie I know, I was the overweight big sister that didn't like exercise while my two younger brothers that never stopped moving stayed slim and could eat anything.

I wish that my Mum in particular had set me a better example by exercising more herself - she wishes the same.

I am still overweight.

Lancelottie Mon 01-Jul-13 13:16:53

Do you happen to remember whether you were always a bit overweight, Ali, and whether that put you off exercising, or whether it crept up on you the other way round?
Genuinely interested. DD was a great big rolypoly sort of baby and stayed plump so she never had a slim phase even as a wee one. But she's also always been a bit physically awkward -- slow to react, very knock-kneed, wheezy with asthma -- and I'm not sure whether she stayed plump because she was always slow, or vice versa.

(Like Howto's daughter, she's bright, pretty, funny and delightful -- just generously made!)

ragged Mon 01-Jul-13 13:22:35

I wouldn't say a word to her about her weight.
I would try to think of things that would help boost her self esteem in other ways.
And I might well talk about behaviour: like comfort eating. Why we do that, how it stuffs down unpleasant feelings (like boredom even), or can make you feel in control when otherwise overwhelmed. And general life coping skills. When you can figure out something to do about your problems and then it gets done, then you don't need to eat a cookie instead.
As someone who used to have an ED, I know for me that when I sorted out my life coping skills and calmed down to have half-decent self-confidence that the ED took care of itself.

bigTillyMint Mon 01-Jul-13 13:23:13

Lancelottie, I was a normal size up to about 5 or 6, but My DM (overweight) used food as treats and then owing to stuff going on at home, I was comfort eating too and put on weight. However, I was always keen to join in with sports, etc.

Then as a student I was drinking....

It wasn't until I started working that I lost the weight and have remained a normal weight.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Mon 01-Jul-13 13:27:28

I don't want to comment on your DD's eating, I have no particular expertise. What I will say is that physical activity is incredibly important for health and well being, not just weight control / loss. It really isn't an option to be sedentary if you want to live a long and healthy life.

Sedentary behaviour is linked to cancers, diabetes, mental health issues, heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline...

Obviously this is more relevant to older people than 16 year olds, but it's much easier to get into an exercise habit now than at 40.

She needs to find an exercise she enjoys or at least tolerates. If money was no object I'd be tempted to get a personal trainer to drill some hard facts and good habits into her.

Poledra Mon 01-Jul-13 13:45:04

Can I offer a suggestion for exercise? I hate, loathe and abhor the gym. I horse-ride. It doesn't feel like exercise, IYSWIM - it feels going out! OK, I'm a forty-something who has no social life but still...

For someone who takes to it, there are lots of opportunities to get exercise without actually paying for lessons. Someone has to move all that muck, y'know, it doesn't move itself. grin The are a number of teenage girls who hang out at my yard doing chores for free riding time.

becscertainstar Mon 01-Jul-13 14:00:04

howtoapproach you sound like a lovely mum and dealing with this in a kind, compassionate way while being honest about your own issues. I second Ronnans recommendation of Dr Robert Lustig's book - this video of him is good too - especially for explaining the vicious cycle of gaining weight and not wanting to exercise. (The video is part of a series - you can watch them all on youtube if it strikes a nerve) It takes the guilt and stigma out of everything - and your daughters diet is pretty classic. Rather than focussing on reducing what she eats, perhaps focus on the ways in which she's undernourished. Rather than fruit and artificial sweetener in the morning and then fruit at night as well - which will raise her insulin level, would she have a boiled egg or some full fat greek yoghurt? Protein is always good at breakfast - and her diet looks very light on protein, light on fibre, and heavy on refined flour and fat. Something like a boiled egg with wholemeal bread for breakfast, and then for tea she needs protein and fibre again - there isn't much of either in mac cheese and yoghurt - is she vegetarian, someone asked upthread but I can't find your answer? If so then a lentil curry with spinach, or chickpea salad with lots of green crunchy leaves. If not then meat and three or four portions of non-starchy veg.

You're working so hard on this. The key is definitely what YOU do, (rather than what you say about what she should do). Going to Body Combat with her is great - are there any other physical activities you can do as a family - long walks, badminton, sponsored runs (eg training for Race For Life together).

I wish you both well - it's not an easy one to tackle.

Lancelottie Mon 01-Jul-13 14:34:23

Thanks, Tilly. hope you don't mind my asking. I think with DD we've possibly 'accepted' her size a bit too much because that's how she's always been.

chocolatecakeystuff Mon 01-Jul-13 19:02:29

I may be out of context here I've only skimmed replies - dies she have a 'smart phone' theressome very goid apps that would help her with diet & excersize. This might not be simething she'd like - but does she like animals - when I put on weight I got back into riding, within 6 months id shed 4 stone, its really great excersize & fun at the same time. Not as expensive as you'd tjink either

AppleHEAD Thu 04-Jul-13 19:18:47

Could you encourage her to cook? After pizza for lunch maybe soup would have been a better tea alternative
Try the website it's got lots of recipes she might like to try.
Maybe explain junk food is ok maybe once a week?
It's so hard I really feel for her and you. Making a stir fry is fun or a salad and if she makes it she might enjoy that to.

ethelb Thu 04-Jul-13 20:01:04

I think you sound like a great mum, however I do think that you need to tread a fine line between helping her and being controlling here. I think you may need to educate yourself a little about nutrition if you are overweight, maybe look at some of the links here. Macaroni cheese is a treat in this house and I am a cheese and carb fiend.

I am surprised by how many people said it wasn't much food, a WHOLE pizza hut pizza is going to be over 1000 calories. A bottle of coke 300. A packet of crisps 150ish. The fruit 200ish. And the macaronic cheese? Even a sensible portion is going to be over 500. That's a couple hundred over what she should be aiming for which is 1lb every two weeks or so.

I understand being a 'reader' who doesn't like exercise and hate how constructed and fake it feels tbh. I prefer long walks in nice areas or cycling myself rather than bumping along with a load of gym bunnies in a class.

That said I find weights, yoga and martial arts fun, has she tried those? If she is clever then she may want something other than weight loss to focus on as a goal, and those three all offer that if you want them too.

I would encourage her to educate herself about health and nutrition. When I was her age and a bit older, I really liked reading Zest magazine and Women's Health for some sensible thinspo. Would make me run out to buy some almonds and strawberries!

Weightloss Resource has good nutritional info as do Weight Watchers if you want to go down that route (you can do weight watchers exclusively online if you don't want to go to classes) and Myfitnesspal has good forums if you want something free.

If she is clever, getting her understanding of the science of nutrition down to an art form may help?

brettgirl2 Fri 05-Jul-13 11:12:28

I was overweight as a teenager and lost 2 stone at the age of 21 partly by switching to diet coke. imo the gym thing is a misnomer because you have to find activity you actually enjoy. Maybe dancing or walking more than usual or nice bike rides. I also think the two 'reed-thin (aka healthy weight at the moment) boys need their diets watching or they are likely to expand rapidly one they have stopped growing also.

Protein calories are better than carbs ( not suggeting any blanket bans but care with them). Think twice about anything with added sugar at all. Sugar makes you fat without making you feel full.

On the positive side I weigh a stone and a half less at 35 having had 2 kids than I did at 16. I think that learning to manage my weight lead to me being slimmer in the long run than the thinner people I went to school with. My brother, a 'reed thin' 16 year old is now quite overweight.

brettgirl2 Fri 05-Jul-13 11:14:27

Oh and if you make it from scratch yourself pizza doesn't have to be unhealthy.

bunnybing Tue 09-Jul-13 12:55:40

Op, do you ferry her around too much? When I was 16 I cycled/walked a lot (into town, to get to my Saturday job etc) not because I particularly enjoyed it, but to get from A to B.

Also second moving from full fat to diet coke - easily done and you soon lose the taste for sugary coke

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