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Child weight issues

64 replies

Twistables · 26/12/2019 02:02

How should I handle my dd's (12 years old) weight? She has always loved her food - she was way more excited by xmas dinner than any presents. My dh is really overweight and will be getting a gastric surgery soon. I've noticed my dd has a bigger tummy than she ought to. Aibu to tell her? I'm afraid she will suddenly become self conscious and she isn't at all yet. She reckons she looks slim. She is very active. The problem is portion control. This has always been a battle but, now she is 12, I just don't have as much control on this as I did previously. I need her to realise she can't eat like a horse without gaining weight. She keeps arguing- just like her father- that each specific instance is perfectly ok. I'm totally worn out by the constant fights over what she can or cannot eat.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

90 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
LeGrandBleu · 26/12/2019 05:27

Who does the shopping and cooks in the house. What does she eat.
Portion control is hardly an issue if there are plates of green beans, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.
What is on the table and in the cupboards?
Are there crips, biscuits, chocolate bars in the house?
Do you eat sitting down or in front of tv?

thickwoollytights · 26/12/2019 06:06

I agree with @LeGrandBleu

Don't have any sugary carby snacks in the house and stick to plenty of veg/fruit/protein with protein snacks.

If her Dad is having gastric surgery soon surely he will help you help DD ?

OnlyLittleMissOrganised · 26/12/2019 06:13

At that age I just wanted to eat what I wanted to eat. Now at the age of 32 and being a little overweight I have come to realise that my metabolism slowed down when I hit puberty. And I started to put a little weight on. Then in late teens I stopped exercising as much. So the weight stayed on. Most of my family are short and let's say a little round so I assumed it was normal. I've now come to realise it was my bad food decisions when I was younger and also being influenced by family at that time too. It's only as I've gotten older we have all become healthier and are all trying to reduce the roundness. My issue like your daughters generally is portion control and saying oh but its just this once. Then it's a lot of "onces".

I think you need to try to get her to have a healthy relationship. Everything is fine but in moderation. Your dh does not seem to have a good relationship with food which is probably where she picks it up from. Especially if he is having surgery you need to work on his relationship with food. Also if he is such a big influence on your daughters eating habits she is unlikely to change unless he does. And ultimately if he doesnt what is the point in him having surgery? It will only be a short term fix. I hope you manage to solve the issue. Maybe talk to her about consequences ie heart disease, type 2 diabetes etc.

Booboostwo · 26/12/2019 06:17

Battles over food and arguing over what she can and cannot eat won’t help. Difficult as it is I think you need to stop all of that. There could well be a genetic component in your DH’s and your DD’s metabolism and body shape. I would focus on her emotional well-being, in the hopes that should she decide that a more measured approach to food is appropriate, she’ll have the strength of will to implement it.

LeGrandBleu · 26/12/2019 06:32

@Booboostwo the impact of fat genes is immensely overrated as they account to maybe an excess of a few hundreds calories a year , so it is the environment which is at fault, not the genes.

As long as we don't know what in on the plate, we can't really comment on how to tackle the issue.

catnidge · 26/12/2019 06:44

In the sales buy some smaller dinner plates. Dinner plates are way too large these days. The plates will still be full but the portions much smaller.
I also believe in everything in moderation so wouldn't get rid of all snack food.
I would also talk about the risks to health, heart, cancer etc. I've had a cancer for which one the risk factors is obesity.
You're husband is about to undergo major surgery whilst you don't want to scare her(or yourself) this is a serious situation to be in.

OceanSunFish · 26/12/2019 06:49

LeGrandBleu - have you got a link? Not saying you’re wrong, just interested.

MsJuniper · 26/12/2019 06:56

Booboostwo, what a lovely and thoughtful response. Whether or not the fat gene is at play, I think the OP should follow your advice.

OP I was your daughter and my family just told me I'd have a growth spurt at some point and lose the puppy fat. Well, I never did and instead developed a lifelong battle with food. I do wish I'd had more guidance and encouragement to be active and eat in moderation - based on an idea of taking pride in my body, rather than feeling shame. It is very hard to pitch without affecting self esteem or creating tension, but if it's clear that it comes from a place of love, that's a start.

catnidge · 26/12/2019 06:58

Also, as a family start exerciss together. Lots of walking. The kids and I used to do work pout dvds together.
Swimming, hula hooping, cycling etc. It doesn't all have to be about losing weight just getting into a routine of exerciss being normal for mental/whole body health.
Good luck op.

fikel · 26/12/2019 07:02

It’s great your addressing it. Healthy food options, step up exercise as a family- long walks etc , treats shouldn’t be banned but sensibility controlled, cut out fizzy drinks in the house unless water.
The old adage really is true, move more, eat less.

Yeahnah2020 · 26/12/2019 07:22

@LeGrandBleu says who? There is more and more evidence to suggest the opposite. What research are you reading??

LeGrandBleu · 26/12/2019 07:38


BMJ, the British Medical journal says so.

and the fat gene doesn't affect weight loss ability here

There is no unbiased research saying that fat genes are the cause of obesity. There might be some paid by the big food industry but can you trust it?

PlanDeRaccordement · 26/12/2019 07:42

She is only 12 and has a final growth spurt coming up to get her to her adult height around age 16-18 and also fill out with breasts and hips. So will need to eat more than a fully adult woman her height.
A little extra tummy on an active 12yr old is nothing to worry about. If you are concerned, have a well check at the GP and see if she is actually medically overweight for her age/weight/height on the growth charts.
I would not restrict her eating in any way unless it was under medical supervision. The last thing you want to do is make her think she is fat when medically she is normal. That leads to body dysmorphia and in extreme cases, bulimia, binge eating and/or anorexia

GrumpyHoonMain · 26/12/2019 07:44

I agree. Even pcos doesn’t impact metabolism to the extent people think it does - the problem is lack of activity. Daily / routine activity is essential for building up your metabolism. Yes walking 10k steps per day and moving a lot won’t help you lose weight by itself but it will sure as hell help you maintain provided you eat well.

LeGrandBleu · 26/12/2019 07:45

An extract from the first link which has a paywall :

" Evidence suggests that people who are homozygous for the FTO allele are on average 3 kg heavier than those not carrying the
gene.6 In the analysis by Livingstone et al, the difference between participants with the FTO allele and those without was smaller, 0.89 kg at baseline. These weight differences are minor compared with the degree of excess weight gain seen across populations. Each kilogram of excess weight represents 3500 kcal of excess energy consumption,7 which, assuming 3 kg of weight gain has happened over a 20 year period, for example, is equal to 525 kcal per year—very small amounts. It is therefore hard to see the over-consumption driven by the FTO gene as a serious problem for public health.

The difference of weight between those with the gene and those without is of 3 kgs in a period of 20 years! so 500 calories a year not 500 calories a day

motortroll · 26/12/2019 08:01

I wouldn't recommend getting weight, height and bmi as pp suggested. My daughter is 11 and classed as overweight since she hit puberty. Also she's on the 97th centile which she usually has been when checked! (School screening info!)

My daughter is very aware that she is different, she doesn't need me telling her! She is very tall with size 7 feet and b/c cup boobs! That's why I ignore the bmi thing, she is fully into puberty so how can she have the same height/weight ratio check as her teeny tiny friend who is unlikely to hit puberty for another 2+ years?

However I don't completely ignore the issue. I talk about exercising for strength and well being, food that is bad for your health rather than your weight eg excess sugar rots your teeth, good and bad fats

I confess I'm not perfect, I used to be a very active runner but have been injured for a long time and gained a lot of weight through excess eating (depression!) which means I haven't exactly been on the ball with my kids! Also it's been raining so much, she usually cycles 10+ miles a week with dh but hasn't in ages!

But I must be doing something right as her lovely friend had a "fat" confidence crisis as she hit puberty and my girl talked her up telling her how strong and healthy she is.

I personally think positive relationships with exercise and food is the way forward.

Booboostwo · 26/12/2019 08:16

LeGrandBleu I only said there might be a genetic component to weight gain. The studies you have quoted show that there is less of a genetic component to weight loss - quite a different point. Either way the causes of both weight gain and one's ability to lose weight are complex and poorly understood. In individual cases it's more than likely that genetic, environmental and emotional factors all play a role and the reasons why a person might gain weight and might lose weight are complex and change throughout one's life.

The OP's DD is 12yo. Very soon she will have direct access to food. Even if food portion control can be carried out by parents, the period where this is successful is very limited. Children make their own food choices at school, at friends' homes, using their pocket money, etc. Even if portion control could be effectively implemented, doing so through arguments, battles and negative emotions associated with food may well have an adverse impact later on. Similarly with exercise, there is a limit to the role of parents. Parents can present healthy food options and limited portions, they can encourage opportunities for exercise but children have to be at least compliant. Very soon children become young adults who will make their own choices about these issues.

A psychologically stable and emotionally secure young adult can decide that they are overweight but happy, fit and healthy, or they can decide that they want to lose weight, but ultimately the decision and its implementation is up to them. The best a parent can do is give them the skills to make this decision, in this kind of case I think it's more about self-confidence, a feeling of acceptance regardless of body type, other tools to deal with emotional distress, etc. than imposing portion control in a combative environment.

FalldereedilIdo · 26/12/2019 08:34

Don’t make this about her weight. This about healthy eating habits for life, which all of us need to have to protect our teeth/ heart/ liver/ joints etc. Don’t ban anything but do not have sugary snacks on a daily basis and do not have them freely available in the house. This means you and DH falling in line with that too. And large portions of vegetables to fill up. Don’t get into emotional bargaining with her just make it a matter-of-fact, this is the change we’re all making, approach.
Genes can make you more prone to carrying weight - but they cannot make you obese without you putting the calories in.

Twistables · 26/12/2019 08:52

Thank you very much for your replies they're very helpful. My DH's surgery is in 2 weeks and I'm hoping this will make him serve much smaller portions. He's the cook; I'm terrible at cooking and I hate cooking. I'm slowly getting better at cooking. My DD is a good cook and I'm trying to teach her healthy attitudes and she is very receptive but my DH's dysfunctional approach to food seeps into everything as he's a great cook. The problem isn't snacks- neither of them snack - the problem are portions and 'heavy' foods such as cream, cheese, pasta, oil, potatoes. When they butter their lovely wholemeal bread they both put massive amounts of butter on. It's constant little things like that. She has a Fitbit and pretty much beats the 10k steps every day, usually it's 14k or 15k. She cycles and loves dancing. Should I tell her she has a belly?!

OP posts:
Obligatorync · 26/12/2019 08:55

God no. Don't tell her, and stop the battles about eating.
Just don't make it easy for her to overeat.
Serve a proper portion of each meal, at the right time, if she says she's still hungry just say it's all gone but she can have fruit/veg/a sugar free yogurt. If she's hungry after that just keep offering her an apple.
Get a pudding or choc/crisps in a couple of times a week and make it just a normal part of eating, not something to wow over.
Let her see you eating well. Not sure what you can do about DH who obviously has disordered eating (I had an eating disorder for many years so no judgement here). But I'd certainly ask him to save binge eating or whatever until she's in bed, and not to talk about food except in a practical fashion.
Just don't make food a big deal.

Obligatorync · 26/12/2019 08:57

And I would try to learn to cook some healthy staples, because after his bypass he's not going to be on any kind of normal diet if friends' experiences are anything to go by.

MiniEggAddiction · 26/12/2019 08:59

Don't make this an issue about appearance and weight. It's about health. By all means discuss portion control though.

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince · 26/12/2019 09:04

My dd loved her food. Even as a baby she would smack her chops when she saw a bottle. Constantly hungry all the time, asking for food.

A bit plump at 9-12. Suddenly at 13, she grew 5 inches. And now is tall and slim. Her appetite shrank and she went off sweet foods. She’s 5ft 10 now and a size 10

Okbutno · 26/12/2019 09:06

Ok so don't even think about mentioning it until the new year. Why would you want to spoil Christmas? I also think going on her having a big tummy isn't ver accurate. You need to get your facts straight first and check if she is actually overweight for her hight. Has she started her periods yet? A bit of weight gain before puberty is fairly common.

Booboostwo · 26/12/2019 09:07

In my experience the weight loss surgery impacts on everyone in the family. As a partner of a person who had it done, I am glad he did it and it was the only choice after years of failed attempts to lose weight and various health problems because of this, but the surgery affects everyone. I would imagine it will affect your DD.

How much does she know about your DH's eating problems? Has he talked to her about it? What surgery is he having? My Ex had a band first which stopped him from eating a wide variety of foods but it caused a lot of problems as well. Eating became so uncomfortable (including frequent vomiting to clear blockages), eating out and eating socially became impossible. In the end he had it removed after a few years. Then he had the gastric sleeve. This has fewer limits on what he can eat, he does react violently to some things, but on the whole it is more manageable.

What I trying to say is that even if your DD isn't aware of your DH's eating problems, she will be after the surgery. He needs to talk to her about it all because how she sees him and his struggles with his weight may affect how she sees herself in the future.

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