From Carol, Child's Age 10 - 10/16/08 - IP#:  Click here to reply  
A few days ago I posted about my son who's very overweight and having a hard time coping with the amount of weight he's carrying. I already asked the doctor about changing his medication, but he said it's not really an option. The only advice he had on the weight gain is to limit his food and get him exercising.
After I posted I called the doctor and asked why being overweight was so hard on my son. I asked him because other overweight kids don't seem to have as much difficulty with simply carrying their own weight. Mostly their problems are about teasing. He had some good advice that I think all parents should hear. The doctor asked about my son's activity level and I told him he's a couch potato. He walks to and from his classroom at school and in the summer he doesn't even do that.
The advice was that overweight kids need to keep exercising even if it doesn't make them lose very much weight. If they keep moving they'll be more comfortable in their bodies even if they stay overweight. But if they get discouraged and become couch potatoes it can be really hard for them to get back in shape because even walking can be exhausting.
The doctor explained that the body can adapt to a lot of extra weight when the person is getting exercise every day. But when the person doesn't move around, the body never has a chance to get used to the weight. The example he used are football players who can be overweight but because they practice a lot their body gets used to the weight. But a sedentary person like my son can have a lot more difficulty. The doctor said my son's body was probably still adjusted to being about 100 pounds, even though he now weighs 170. He said it's like taking a 100 pound kid and putting a 70 pound backpack on him. Now I understand why he struggles so much with any type of exercise.
Since my son's weight is such a sore subject I hadn't brought it up a lot, but I decided it was time to have a serious talk with him. He gets upset when I mention his weight because he doesn't want to go on a diet and give up his favorite foods. I showed him a 30 pound bag of dog food in the garage and told him to lift it. He could hardly lift it at all. Then I told him that was how much weight he gained since school let out for the summer. He was shocked and said that's why it's so hard to run and climb stairs now. I warned him he could gain that much more during the school year if we didn't do something about it. That really upset him. He got afraid of what it would feel like to be 30 pounds heavier and begged me not to let that happen to him because he couldn't stand being that heavy. I wish he hadn't gotten so upset but for the first time he's willing to try eating healthier. We'll have to see if he can use this as a lesson to help him overcome his sweet tooth. Sorry for writing so much.
Reply from annie, Child's Age 16 - 10/16/08  - IP#:
Thanks, Carol, for passing on the excellent advice your doctor gave you. My son is overweight (300 lbs, 5'9" at age 16) but he's very active and has learned to eat healthy (even though he still eats a lot). Our doctor gave us the same advice when my son was 12 and had gained from 95 to 170 in a year. Even though he's even heavier now, his blood pressure and cholesterol are normal now and he's blossomed socially.