Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chunky Grandchild Needs Loving Support, Not Criticism Or Denial

Dear Tazi:

I have a difficult family issue that I feel needs to be addressed, but I am unsure how to approach it. My grandchild, "Suzie" is 10-years-old and weights over 150 pounds. She needs to shop at the women's plus-size stores just to find clothes that will fit her. She is not tall for her age, either - in fact, she is on the short side, making her weight all the more shocking. Since underactive thyroid problems run on my side of the family, my son (Suzie's father) insists that she is checked for thyroid problems at her yearly physical, and so far everything has come back normal, so her weight is not a glandular issue. It is an issue of poor diet and a lack of exercise.

I would like to approach my son and daughter-in-law about Suzie's weight, and ask about getting her into some kind of after-school fitness program, but I know that I would be treading on delicate ground. Suzie's mother insists that it's just "baby fat" and that Suzie will lose the weight once puberty hits; but I am afraid that puberty is a time when a thyroid problem is likely to develop, as it has with my other granddaughters (who all work very hard to keep their weight within a healthy range).

You seem knowledgeable about thyroid problems and other health issues, based upon what I have read in your responses to other readers with weight issues, so I am hoping you have some advice for me on how to approach this issue.

Concerned Grandma

Dear Concerned Grandma:

You are correct in thinking that puberty is a time when a thyroid condition is likely to evolve in your young granddaughter, as that is exactly when most thyroid conditions - especially the autoimmune kind - leave the dormant state and start to wreak havoc on a person's health. Although 10-years-old is not too young to start having thyroid issues, it is highly unlikely that this is the cause. The fact that Suzie has been tested recently - and that those tests come back normal - rules out hypothyroidism as the cause of her weight problems.

You do not mention how tall Suzie is, just that she is "on the short side"; which means for her age and height she should probably weigh around 65 - 70 pounds. At 150 pounds, she is morbidly obese and is at serious risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, liver and kidney problems, and a host of other weight-related health issues that no child should experience.

You are correct in assuming that Suzie's weight will be a sore subject to tackle, especially if her mother is in denial of the severity of the problem. My advice to you is to approach your son about Suzie's health, as he seems to be the realist in that house. Express your interest in terms of spending more time with your granddaughter, and suggest some seasonal physical activities that the two of you could enjoy together. I am especially fond of gardening, because it attracts wildlife that I can chase, but as a three-season activity it provides great exercise (planting, hoeing, weeding, watering...) and the fruits of your labor are tasty and healthy fresh foods to eat, which will go a long way towards improving Suzie's diet as well as instilling a sense of pride in the results of her hard work.

Regardless of what you choose to do, remember to let Suzie know that you love her, regardless of her size.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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