From Ms. B, Child's Age 14 - 12/22/10 - IP#:  Click here to reply  
My son is fourteen and severely overweight. During his baby and toddler years my mother babysitted often. She is also Extremely overweight. She is now a diabetic. My son has gotten into a lot of her habits. If my Mom had a taste for a pickle she would eat the entire jar, not just one.
I received a call from my son's gym teacher. She reported that her class was sent to the cafeteria during a lock-down procedure. My son refused to sit down. Instead he continued to walk back and forth to the vending machines. He asked her for a quarter which she did not have. So he began to check all the vending machine coin slots for any change they may have been left behind. He never found any change and began to throw a fit like a 3 year old. The next day my sons class was in the cafeteria again and he went straight to the vending machines and purchased an ice cream. The teacher reprimanded him and he sat down happily because he had his ice cream. I just want to mention that my son is lactose intolerant and shouldn't have ice cream anyway. That evening he was in so much pain and continued to go to the bathroom several times. What get's me the most is that some of the things he sneaks give him pain and he doesn't even care.
Please help me. What should I do to get him on the right track?
Reply from Robert - 12/23/10  - IP#:
Nearly all obese teens appear to be addicted to certain foods, which they are overwhelmingly drawn to eat. These foods typically are highly pleasurable foods, such as chocolate and ice cream. The emotional part of their brain has learned that eating those foods soothes depression and boredom, and relieves stress. Thus, that part of their brain takes over their eating control and subsequently compels the teen to eat those foods. The teen has incessant thoughts of these foods, especially when sad, stressed, or bored. One teen described it as that the food was “calling” to him. Trying to resist the thoughts is stressful itself, so the teen finally caves, eats the food, then feels bad about it.
Education on healthy eating and exercise is not enough to break such an addiction. These kids need major motivation and support to break their dependence. They must get unhooked from their problem foods, learn to distract themselves from food, and learn to cope with life without turning to food. The kids who use this website are one source of support. Counseling also is helpful. To break the addiction, when food calls, the teen must learn to vividly imagine the things he hates about being obese, such as physical pain, being teased, stretch marks, not getting girlfriends, being out of breath, not being able to wear cool clothes, and distract himself with fun activities, call a friend, or take a walk.
Here are strategies obese teens have successfully used to break their addiction to food and lose weight. This is an excerpt from the book, OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say, pp. 292-298. Good luck.