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How Can I Help my Overweight Daughter? Should I Send her to a Camp for Overweight Teens?

answered 09:29 AM EST, Tue February 07, 2012
My daughter is an overweight 14 year old. I was an overweight teen so I remember how painful it can be too be the butt of fat jokes in high school hallways. I wish there was something I could do to help her lose weight so she doesn’t have the same experience I did growing up.

How can I get her to lose weight without pushing her too hard towards things like anorexia? My wife and I are also overweight so when we tell her to be careful with what she eats our words may not have as much impact as they would if we were very fit.
I am considering sending her to a summer camp for overweight teens.

My daughter is 5 foot 6 inches and she weighs about 180 pounds. Is this the best way for me to help her lose weight? Is there anything else I can do to get her to start eating more healthily?

William Anderson Says...

I understand your heartache and concern, but trying to get your daughter to lose weight is not what you need to do to make things better. First and foremost, the most important thing you can give your daughter is your unconditional love and approval. Sometimes, trying to "help" with something like weight loss sends the wrong message that they are not good enough for mom and dad. That can cause problems that are worse than being overweight.

If you really want to help your daughter with her weight, you and your wife need to work diligently and effectively to solve your own weight problems yourselves. If you don't, you should only offer an opinion or assistance if she asks for it. Otherwise, don't make an issue of it.  If she does ask for help, offer to set her up with a qualified licensed counselor who specializes in weight control and eating issues. Don’t assume you know what to do yourselves.

If she wants to go to a summer camp for overweight kids, that is not a bad idea if it is her idea and the camp's protocol is based on sound medical principles, behavioral and otherwise. Be careful. There are a lot of "weight loss experts" out there who are unqualified and outright dangerous. If it is not her desire to go to such a camp, don't push it.

Your daughter's weight problem is a product of the environment she lives in and the thinking and eating habits it teaches. A big part of this is what's been happening at home for years. We tend to absorb and act out the behavior that we are taught unconsciously through modeling, the things that are done by the people in our world like our parents, our peers and the culture portrayed in the media, advertising included.

Parents are powerful models. That has more power than anything you can say. This is a good thing, because if you start modeling successful recovery from being overweight, that can really help. If you decide to model a healthy and fit way of living, thinking and behaving, it will be much better than sending her to summer camp or anything else you could do. It is not just "something else" you can do to help her, it is the very most important thing you could do to help her.

My heart goes out to all of you. I grew up as the fat kid in school and it is very painful. Also, for too long I was not the best of models for my kids. Fortunately I was able to turn it around. I hope you are able to do the same.




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Page last updated Feb 07, 2012

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