My overweight teenage daughter won’t exercise – how do I help her?


This Move Reader shared her struggles with motivating her teen daughter to adopt a healthier lifestyle and Sis Dolly provided interesting advice. 

Reader's Question

My daughter is 17 and she’s very overweight. I am worried about her but don’t know how to help.
I try to make sure she eats well when she’s home with me and I try to make her exercise, but she’s not interested. I don’t want to make her feel bad, but I do need to do something. Please help!

Sis Dolly's Answer

It’s commendable that you want to help your daughter with this. Weight is a very sensitive issue for most people, whether it’s a man or woman, young or old. And it can get so bad that if the obese person doesn’t get support, they could become depressed and even suicidal. So one has to tread carefully when talking to someone who seems to be struggling with their weight.

You’ve tried all you can to help your daughter with this challenge, so maybe it’s time to enlist the professionals.

Ask your GP to refer her to a dietician and also take her for individual counselling. She needs to understand that this isn’t about looking good but rather about being healthy and living a fulfilling life.

If her obesity isn’t caused by her being inactive or not eating healthily, counselling will get to the root of the problem and help her deal with it. All you need to do now is be there for her as a source of support.

Whatever she’s tasked with, try to join her in it – be it changing her diet or starting an exercise programme, even if it’s just walking. You should lead by example and be her role model, so she doesn’t feel like she’s alone. If there are other siblings in the house, they should also join in to support her.

Psychology Today advises that when you’re trying to help a teenager who is obese, parents have to do everything they can to educate themselves not only about nutrition but about binge eating disorder and obesity in general.  

By doing so, they will learn that highly processed foods are as addictive as alcohol, and that the addiction is lifelong, even after the apparent weight problem has disappeared.

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