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Dealing with overweight son.(37 Posts)
Wasn't sure where to post but thought I would post here for traffic as am a regular on the relationships board.
I have a beautiful 9 (nearly 10) year old son. He has always been on the higher % of the centile for weight and height. Yesterday I weighed and measured him for forms for his football club. I was astonished to see he is 46kgs. He is very tall for his age, 149 cms. I calculated his BMI which I know don't take into account build, muscle etc but he is on the 96th Centile and classed as obese.
He is solid, but round his middle he holds fat. He is starting to get conscious of it and it slows him down in terms of sport. He is an active child, he does football twice a week, karate once a week and every lunchtime at school he plays football, as well as gymnastics twice a week.
He always has a good breakfast, has soup and a main cooked meal at school, and I pretty much always cook from scratch and healthily in the evenings. In the past he would fill out,shoot up and slim down and repeat. But this summer he has grown, but he still looks a little overweight.Ii wouldn't say he looks obese. He has his fathers build, whereas my other son is like me and a bit of a whippet (both DS's eat the same food, although DS1 will eat more at a sitting).
He doesn't have much in terms of fizzy drinks/ juice etc and mostly drinks water, he doesn't eat much sweets or biscuits either. I brought it up with him today in a round about way and he got upset and said I was telling him he was fat and to stop talking about it. I tried to discuss with him more in terms of health rather than appearance as I don't want him to have issues but at the same time I think we need to address it before it gets a bigger problem.
Any advice on how to deal with this with him? We did have an issue last year when he was having his school dinner but also buying stuff at school ( they have a card which is charged with money and should be for school meals only but he was chancing it and we found out, hasn't done it since as we can check what he is spending the money on).
Its a tricky one so any advice welcomed! I do think he might be starting puberty, but I don't want to fall into the trap of "he'll grow and slim down", "boys need fat to grow" etc and then get to a point its a much bigger problem. Thanks in advance.
Maybe you need to look at his portion sizes?
I was a right porky little heifer, and I agree about you tackling it now....but maybe along the lines of family consumption and lifestyle rather than his own health. beacause at the end of the day he will see it as criticism, hes just a child after all.
Sadly my mum had a never ending suppy of cakes and biscuits in the house, so her motivational chats were pointless, you do sound much more sensible.
Look at portion sizes and why does he need so many meals a day?
Soup AND a cooked meal at school then a main meal at home?
Soup is lunch on it's own and then two cooked meals- bit much.
Thanks LoveNunxxx he loves his food. He is a real foodie, likes to cook etc. I think you are correct about portion sizes, but he tells me he is still hungry and will often have seconds. That is what I find difficult I think is him knowing when he is full, and me not pandering when he says he is hungry!
I don't know how I could make my diet, and consequently theirs better because we do eat well in terms of balance etc.
BoomBoom: we live overseas and they always start their meals with soup at school. Their school dinners are very balanced in terms of calories and what they serve. Sometimes I will give them something light in the evenings if they have an activity not always a full sit down cooked meal.
I will take a look at portion sizes, thanks.
Watching with interest as I have 6.5 yo dd who is similar.
I have started giving a smaller initial portion anticipating a request for seconds and boxing up leftovers to be saved for another day rather than being immediately available to try to tackle the issue but not sure if this is the right thing to do.
Well my son at that age was over weight and had fat around his middle. He then hit puberty and is now 6 2 and and a perfect size, thins his body was building up for the growth.He eats like a horse and loves food. I personally would not be worried yet
When looking at growth charts, you need to look at the height percentile (you write your son is tall) against the weight percentile...if his height was in the 90th range as well then he would be proportional. Those charts work on average children in the population so I wouldn't worry too much. There is a danger of making kids body conscious, especially in a world of social media. He may be skinny as a stick in a few years when puberty kicks in. I think the key with childhood is to ingrain some healthy habits early on rather than be calorie counting. Personally I ban sweets from the house (for dental reasons), so my kids have an odd bar of chocolate while out and about but they don't see anyone rewarding themselves with sweet treats at home (because their parents don't have a sweet tooth). I take my kids out for a 1-2 mile walk with the dogs everyday as it keeps my weight down, gives us talking time away from technology/ tv distractions and it gets them in a routine of going out for exercise. Perhaps you could give some thought to doing the same, a walk, a swim, a game of tennis a few times per week after school...my kids eat like horses but their weight is normal because of this I suspect as I am not good with portion control.
I think you need to decide when his main meal will be, at the moment it sounds as if he's routinely having two. Either a school dinner and a light tea, or a sandwich for lunch and a cooked dinner in the evening.
Blackitten: I think he will be very tall. He is already in 12-13 size clothes in some shops. Maybe I am worrying before I need to.
scoobydoo: his height is at the top of the centile also yes. We walk the dog, and he does activities 3 nights a week after school. He loves football (but is a goalie ;). At weekends he will go on his bike with his dad, or we will go for long walks. He is active. i don't have an issue with his level of activity. Its just despite all that he seems to be getting bigger. His waist is 32 inches already. To look at him though I don't think you would say he obese. He is solid.
I will watch and observe, and keep pushing the healthy choices. Thanks
Some children gain fat before puberty and then once through it 13/14 slim down again. He's only ten and he is bothered that he feels you are talking about him being fat. If he says he is hungry after eating then maybe he is. Maybe he doesn't get enough fat in his meals or protein. Him feeling that you are worried about his weight could lead to more secret eating and disordered eating .
I think it was Denmark (definitely somewhere Nordic) that had a widescale issue with children's weight, so came up with a diet plan for everyone. For a main meal, the plate should be 1/4 carbs, 1/4 protein and 1/2 vegetables. Everyone is allowed seconds, but only if they finish their first plate completely. The point was that it filled people up with vegetables (relatively low calorie) rather than carbs. If your DS wants to eat a lot, can you make more of it vegetables?
pudding seriously your son sounds exactly like mine, I did worry about him at the time and getting clothes to fit was a night mare. In hind sight I should not have been concerned. The weight just fell of him with no changes to diet
Lovlies: I am conscious about that, which is why I posted. A few people have commented on his size recently, which is why i wanted to tackle it with him and support him. His Karate teacher rubbed his stomach when they started back after summer, his surf teacher commented that it would be easier if he lost some weight to be better at surfing. He is going for a medical later today and I know they will make a point of it. I am trying to empower him a little bit to think about his eating.
Sheepyfun: they always have vegetables, good balance of protein and fat, and I always say they can only have more if they have finished their plate.
Its difficult through when you have one child who needs probably to have a bit more weight on him, and one who could do with losing a bit, to be fair ifykwim.
Last thing I want is for him to be self conscious and have body image issues, but I also don't want him to be targeted at school and be down about being overweight. Such a difficult balance.
Maybe I need to worry about it less!
My son eats when he is thirsty - try getting him to drink a big glass of water with each meal, this helped ours. If he's saying he's hungry and wants a snack we say have a drink and if you're still hungry in half an hour have some food. Most of the time he doesn't bother with the snack.
Too many red flags here - you in denial - or ill informed:
"He has always been on the higher % of the centile for weight and height." height not relevant - weight is.
"He is solid, but round his middle he holds fat." waist measurement is the key indicator of obesity.
"I calculated his BMI which I know don't take into account build, muscle etc but he is on the 96th Centile and classed as obese. " - this is accurate - you know he isnt 100% muscular as he holds fat around his middle.
"but he still looks a little overweight.Ii wouldn't say he looks obese" doesnt matter what YOU think he looks like....that medical data tells you he is obese as does his own words and impact on his physicality "He is starting to get conscious of it and it slows him down in terms of sport."
"To look at him though I don't think you would say he obese. He is solid." denial again - who cares what you or others say if they looked at him? The medical evidence is saying is not saying he is "solid" not even overweight - but obese.
Pay attention to this and to how he feels being this way.
"We did have an issue last year when he was having his school dinner but also buying stuff at school (they have a card which is charged with money and should be for school meals only but he was chancing it and we found out, hasn't done it since as we can check what he is spending the money on)". This rings alarm bells - suggests an eating disorder if after all he eats he still wants (not needs more) - you dont know if he is still eating extra.
"he loves his food. He is a real foodie, likes to cook etc." this is often a cover for access to more food
"I think you are correct about portion sizes, but he tells me he is still hungry and will often have seconds." YOU don't have to give him seconds OR have seconds available. His food probably hasn't even been absorbed when he asked for seconds. He doesn't NEED seconds.
I think that the issue here is that you have a family with different metabolic rates and that is a juggle.
It doesnt sound like a temporary puberty issue - he has this pattern of weight gain numerous times - only shifting it on a growth spurt - but what happens when he stops growing?
I think that you need to tackle this hard right now as a family - with lots of small new habits - especially at home which is the only place you have control. Look at meal composition and then also calories specifically as everyone has a different version of what a correct portion size for a 9 year old is. Get proper medical advice on this IIRC it is the size of a side plate at this age. Cut all juices and drinks from home. Pre epmt the hunger pangs with a a drink of water first and then a banana or apple to hand. Teach him to wait through the "hunger". He really needs to regulate this. My skinny, gym bunny sister's son was like this, there were always excuses - "stress, I cook from scratch (she did and does), he is just a big tall lad (he is tall, "big" yeesss), he is v active/sporty (read goalie) - he is now a v obese 18 year old who is although social is constrained so much by his size is refusing to go to uni until he looses the weight.
It's always possible he's packing on pounds to have a major growth spurt.
A 32 inch waist is pretty large.... for context my ds is 170cm with a 26 inch waist and an average bmi.
He just needs less food. That's really all there is to it. Breakfast, lunch, evening meal. Water before during and after meals. An apple if he's still hungry. His appetite should adjust after a few days - maybe you could 'forget' to go to the supermarket so the food you have in needs to last longer hence no snacking and smaller meals this week.
another20: thanks for your input, I am neither in denial or poorly informed. I am a nurse, I have had training in nutrition and I also know the BMi scales are not always a true reflection. Yes he is on the 96th centile.
I am slim, so is my younger son and my ex husband is stocky but not fat. he had issues with weight when he was younger, but after puberty slimmed down. Our diet is not an issue. And he is very active.
he isn't buying more at school now as we have blocked his card to only eat the school meal provided and we can monitor this. He was doing it because all his friends do too.
Honestly if you looked at him you wouldn't say he was fat, he's solid and built, with some fat around his waist. I am trying to get a hold on it which is one of the reasons why I posted. i will try the giving more water (except that is pretty much all he drinks at home as I never buy fizzy drinks etc)/ I will also look at portion size.
Thanks for the input.
There must be something wrong here. He seems active so let's rule out lack of exercise. So that leaves diet and hormones. How much does he eat exactly? If he has more calories in than out he will gain fat. It may be worth looking at his portion sizes. Then you also need to consider the quality of the food that he is eating. What are they feeding him at school? You may want to consider packed lunches. You say that you cook at home-fresh isn't necessarily healthy. You need to make sure that he is getting complex carbs rather than refined e.g. Whole wheat pasta not white, brown rice notwhite etc. You should also always make sure that you opt for full fat dairy products and avoid condiment like ketchup (loads of sugar). Try changing up his diet a bit and see how it goes. If a change in diet see no improvement you may have to consider the possibility the hehas a hormonal imbalance.
Op, does he eat a cake after his dinner? I know someone who has an overweight son but the mum gives him a cake or something else sweet in the evening when you are less mobile.
Also, sometimes school/university meals contain additives like thickeners. They also add calories. I remember myself starting college weighting 48kg, 165cm. After eating college lunches my weight had risen to 54kg very quickly.
I think you need to be a lot more in control of his eating habits. You say he doesn't have "much" in terms of fizzy drinks or "much" sweets or biscuits but you don't specify what this means. Is it one fizzy drink a week or one a day? One piece of cake a day or one every few days? People's definition of portion size and frequency varies wildly. You also don't seem to have taken on board what people have been saying about cooking in the evenings, no-one - adult or child - needs a two-course cooked meal in the middle of the day and then a cooked meal again in the evening.
Also, I appreciate there are different cultural norms at play here but if two of his sports coaches have referred to his weight in a roundabout way, that rings alarm bells!
This sounds like my friends son. He's 18 yo now. A big boy tall and well built, He did get rather chubby as a child and reached 'peak chubby' around 10 yo. But he slimmed right down naturally as he got older and he grew taller. He's around 2 metres tall now and looks really athletic. Plays Rugby and does kick boxing etc.
I personally wouldn't put your son on a diet OP . And I doesn't sound like your over feeding him, but yes maybe a bit less portion-wise, would help? Whilst a bowl of soup may be enough for me for lunch. I'm not sure it would a growing lad.
Perhaps reduce the carbs he has? Substitute veggies for spuds, that kind of thing? If your confident he isn't eating junk food, sugary rubbish etc outside the home and has a reasonably healthy diet, with regular balanced meals then I think it would be wise to just give it a little time.
Doesn't sound like its holding him back anyway and I seem to remember hearing about 10 years ago, that by going by the BMI -- Brad Pitt was technically Obese??..I could be wrong about that though...
Thanks for the replies, I am not in denial and I am taking on board what you say.
In terms of fizzy drinks he has one can maybe on a weekend if we eat out or he's at a party. He doesn't eat cake at home. His dinners at school are balanced and are grilled fish, meat etc. I live in Portugal and two cooked meals here are perfectly normal and the population is general not as fat as in the uk.
I get what you are saying about two cooked meals a day, but I like to eat in the evenings and with the kids so I will cook. However on the days they have activities it might be something simple like poached egg on toast etc. I use whole grains, pulses etc and always use fresh ingredients. I've never had an issue with my weight and am aware of how to cook and eat healthily. Last night we had spinach, salmon fillet, broccoli and a few new potatoes. No sauces for example.
He actually said today to me when I picked him up from school what he can change which includes not having the chocolate milk they give him at school (I wasn't awAre the school still gave!), about limitIng himself at parties, not having second portions and drinking more water.
He's an endomorph in terms of body shape, whereas me and younger son are ectomorphs.
He also came home today and said he wanted to sign up for badminton at lunchtime. So he isn't shy of doing exercise. He can play a full 90 minutes of football and not get tired.
I'll keep an eye and see if the changes make much difference.thanks again.
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