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My 5 year old relative is overweight


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How can I tell my cousin that her son is is overweight?  He is 5 years old and weighs 85 lbs.  

Recently, the family had come for a visit and he weighed 75 lbs at the time.  I thought he was growing out of the weight.  He was taller and more active.  But, in just 8 months he has gained another 10 lbs.  How can I bring the subject of weight up without angering them.

History:  My Cousin (the mom) now has type 2 diabetes from her pregnancy with this child.  Her weight has also skyrocketed since giving birth.

Side Note:  I've wondered if she is intentionally keeping everyone heavy because she is heavy herself.  I try to brush this off but I keep getting that feeling.

 

23 Replies (last)
Original Post by sianoah:

How can I tell my cousin that her son is is overweight?  

She already knows.

 

I agree with floggingsully.  She has to know.  The doctor is telling her, her eyes are telling her.

The same habits and food choices that are making her overweight are probably the same ones that are making him overweight.  I doubt it is an attempt to make herself feel better.

You getting involved would not help.

Oh, I wish there were something you could do but I have to agree with the others. If you were to say something to her, she would probably feel that you were attacking her ability to parent which never has a good outcome.

Here's hoping that she realizes on her own that they need to change their habits.

Agreed.  It could also hurt...  Sometimes kids just need some time to "grow" into their bodies.  Our little neighbor boy was always a really chubby kid till he just shot up one day.  By 8th grade or so he was fit and always active.  Some kids put on weight first, then have a growth spurt.  I wouldn't do anything unless you're really seriously worried about his health.

Question: have his parents always had issues with their weight?  (I know you say hers shot up post-pregnancy, I mean before that) If not, I would guess that they'll be able to teach him healthy habits that'll help him keep the weight in check.  If the parents have always had issues, those issues are more likely to rub off on the kid.

I agree, you should stay out of it.  A lot of children are overweight but then go through a growth spurt and it evens out, as you've said you noticed with him.  You, as a cousin not living in their home, can't begin to have all the information or knowledge of her son's eating habits that she does so it's not really your place to judge.  Someone more appropriate (such as a doctor) will surely tell her if there's a concern for his health and if she doesn't listen to them, she certainly wouldn't have listened to you.

The ability of parents to not actually see their kids are overweight and the ability of parents to participate in denial, I can easily see this parent not knowing that their child is overweight. Add to this the fact that mother has type 2 diabetes and is now overweight post pregnancy, I'd say there's a pretty good chance that nutrition and healthy eating is not a priority or that she isn't knowledgeable in it.

85 lbs at the age of 5 is beyond chubby. The statistics of overweight kids becoming overweight adults far outweigh the number of "chubby" kids that have a growth spurt and suddendly slim down.

All that said, I don't think there's a lot you can do. Depending on your relationship with your cousin, you might be able to talk about growth percentiles, weight changes, asking if she's had the kid to the doctor and what dr thinks is going on. You will probably need to tread lightly to avoid alienating her.

85 lbs does seem like a lot for a 5 year old, but how tall is the kid?

He could either be in the 95th percentile for his height, or he could weigh twice the average for his height.

5 years old doesn't tell me how tall the kid is.

i think it's okay to say something - once.  this is the current and future well-being of a child we're talking about after all; it's not just about the mom's ego.  just do it kindly, and then let it go.  

and if you're close enough, personally and geographically, you can spend some time with the kid doing fun, active things.

If you feel close enough of a friend, I think you say something but gently.  Not directly about her son but about her weight, health, and habits.  Let her know you are concerned about her and her son and you'd like them to have better happier lifestyle. 

My best friend's daughter was overweight all of her child hood.  The mom always said she wasn't.. But as a 6 year old little girl, she was wearing size 12+ jeans. 

My bf denied that she was overweight, even when the little girl was standing next to my daughter who always wore clothes that were smaller... For example, my daughter at 6 wore size 4/5 clothes...  My daughter's doctors were telling me that my daughter was overweght and I needed to be careful with her.  I never could understand the concept of if my daughter was considered overweight, how Taylor could not be.  They were the same height.

Turns out, Taylor slimmed out a little bit and looks healthy now.  My daughter and Taylor probably now weigh about the same, but my daughter wears clothes that are 3-5 times smaller than what Taylor wears.

Bottom line... He still may grow into it, but just maybe subtly encourage the little guy to be more active without saying anything to his mom...  He may eventually grow into it.

Original Post by kimconnell:

My best friend's daughter was overweight all of her child hood.  The mom always said she wasn't.. But as a 6 year old little girl, she was wearing size 12+ jeans. 

My bf denied that she was overweight, even when the little girl was standing next to my daughter who always wore clothes that were smaller... For example, my daughter at 6 wore size 4/5 clothes...  My daughter's doctors were telling me that my daughter was overweght and I needed to be careful with her.  I never could understand the concept of if my daughter was considered overweight, how Taylor could not be.  They were the same height.

Turns out, Taylor slimmed out a little bit and looks healthy now.  My daughter and Taylor probably now weigh about the same, but my daughter wears clothes that are 3-5 times smaller than what Taylor wears.

Bottom line... He still may grow into it, but just maybe subtly encourage the little guy to be more active without saying anything to his mom...  He may eventually grow into it.

 You were witnessing parental denial in action. Your bf may never have discussed it with her doctor. The doctor may have never brought it up.

Just last year, my SO's pediatrician told him that his daughter needed to lose at least 5 lbs or at least not gain any more weight. It was obvious to everyone around that his daughter was getting pretty heavy. That was the first time that doctor had said anything and she had been heavier than other kids her height for several years.

Original Post by naido:

If you feel close enough of a friend, I think you say something but gently.  Not directly about her son but about her weight, health, and habits.  Let her know you are concerned about her and her son and you'd like them to have better happier lifestyle. 

 Or you could just buy him a shirt that's just way too small.  That'll get the ball rolling.

Mooni - It was total Denial!  She even said her doc said that the little girl was not overweight... Frankly, I think the doc was telling her different but she was denying what the doc was talling her as well...

Oh.. And come to think of it... Our daughters shared the same doctor.

Surprised

Original Post by kimconnell:

Mooni - It was total Denial!  She even said her doc said that the little girl was not overweight... Frankly, I think the doc was telling her different but she was denying what the doc was talling her as well...

Oh.. And come to think of it... Our daughters shared the same doctor.

 I just knew it had to be denial. Parents can be absolutely blinded to things they don't want to see in their children. It is frustrating to watch someone not take care of their kid's problem (no matter what it is) just because they don't want to admit their child has a problem.

The step daughter is a sad case for me. I love her. I love her father. He is a great father in many ways. He just can not see that her diet is atrocious and leading her to a life of misery. While at times she will thin out a little as she grows some, she immediately starts to pack the pounds back on. He'll admit it a little, but when then go right back to acting like nothing is wrong.

Instead of saying something, be a positive influence in the kid's life.

Run around with him, make him healthy snacks, teach him about exercising for the joy of it and eating healthy because it nurishes your body.

Be a positive influence, rather than just one more person saying he's fat. I'm sure he's gotten enough of that, and kids have very fragile egos.

Be a role model for him and help to teach him healthy habits whenever you can.

buy him a skateboard (and a helmet etc.)

Heck, I was 75 lbs at 5 and off the charts weight and height-wise, but wasn't noticeably overweight until maybe 4th of 5th grade (we moved so I got really depressed and stopped playing and stuff). Still, I understand the concern. I think Nasuoni has the best approach, try to teach him while you're around, and be active and stuff (that's what I do with my cousins that are about that age).

My daughter is over the 95th% for height and weight.  She is 8 and weighs around 88 lbs.  Do I like it, no.  I know she is heavier than she should be.  She is physically active and I try to feed her healthy foods.  I don't want to give her a body image complex so I just do the best I can.  I don't believe in putting kids "on a diet" and it has been proven that you might control their weight for awhile but when they get out of your control, they will overeat and gain even more.  Parents are responsible for the when and what that kids eat and kids take care of the how much and if of what they eat.  My sister's boy was chunky most of his growing up years and it was always hard for us to see.  She did her best and it did affect his self esteem but he has shot up this last year, become more physically active and made his own decision to eat more healthy.  He looks great.  If you have the opportunity, be active with him and offer healthy snacks.  I would not do more than that. 

Tina - I can't tell if I agree or disagree iwth your post.  It almost seems as if you are contradicting yourself, but it might just be the way I am reading it.

To help "control" my kids weight as you put it was very easy.  If they wanted something that wasn't a fruit or a vegetable, I would tell them that's fine, IF they ate a fruit or a vegetable FIRST.  Most of the time, after they ate the fruit or the veggie, they weren't hungry anymore.  In doing so, it has built a habit into them, that they just go for a fruit or a vegetable for a snack rather than something that isn't as good for them.

Therefore, without so much as saying I am putting you on a diet, I put my kids on a diet.  They had no clue! It's all about presentation and making it sound like it's just a better way of eating to make them stronger and healthier. You aren't lying, they will become stronger and healthier, they just get the added benefit of not putting the rest of the crap in their body.

My nephew used to be a little chunk too.  Not for a lack of his mom trying to feed him the rigth foods, he just was.  He's now like 6'5" or something like that and skinny as a beanpole.  He is in competitive Tae Kwon Do and can manage his weight within 10 lbs just by controlling what he puts in his body. He's 16 now, and an amazing kid!

It is a perfect height/weight ratio, I thought, if the %iles matched.  Like my kids, that are both 75th for height AND weight.  All it is saying is that in 100 kids, mine are bigger than 75 of them.

That being said, the problem with many parents is that they don't want to change their OWN lifestyle, which makes it difficult to change their kids' lifestyle.  And we are still met with people who think chubbyness in young kids is a sign of health.

For my kids, we have "anytime" snacks, such as fruit or vegetables, and "sometimes" snacks, like ice cream.  And because of my own lack of self-control, we don't have much of the junk food laying around.  And I'm talking to them about if they are REALLY hungry when they grab a snack, or just want something to chew.  But this all takes work, and planning, and changing my habits as well as theirs. 

Sadly, many parents don't do this - just like many parents don't give their kids true consequences of their actions - just like many parents know reading every day is good for their little ones, but they don't.

As for myself - if you want to mention it to the mom, that might start her thinking - maybe.  But be prepared to face some alienation, because it is very tough to hear criticism over your parenting, and something that might be construed as an insult to the child (even if it is true and meant with the best of intentions).

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