Parents Ask About 11-Year-Old Son’s Obesity

Dear Dr. Bill,

We have an 11-year-old boy who LOVES food.  He’s always asking us for treats or snacks, and becomes disappointed and upset when we say “no.”  Worst of all, he’s 4-foot, 9-inches tall and weighs 114 pounds!

We often talk to our son about the importance of a healthier diet, but we battle with overeating ourselves.  Both of us are 20 to 30 pounds overweight.  We’ve tried not to make things worse by forbidding ALL junk food, yet our son will “pig out” whenever we can’t control his diet.

Of course, we love our son no matter what, but we feel we can’t allow this to go on.  But we don’t want to damage his self-esteem or steal away what he seems to enjoy the most.  What should we do?

–Paul

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Dear Paul,

I consulted with my friend Dr. Walt Larimore, a family physician who is an expert on childhood obesity.

He said that if son weighs 114 pounds and is 4 foot 9, his weight puts him in the 95th percentile for boys his age.  That means he is clinically obese, and at high risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, depression, and early death.  In fact, according to one study, his life expectancy right now is only 46!

Your family needs to make some dramatic lifestyle changes, not just for your son’s sake, but for yours as well.  The fact that you are both overweight puts you at risk for multiple health problems and premature death.

Dr. Larimore suggests that your family focus on five things:  better nutritional choices, an increase in physical activity, eating meals together as a family, better rest and recreation habits, and wiser media choices.  For more specifics, go to supersizedkids.com.

Thanks for writing Paul.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

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