Sensitive topic-- unhealthy weight gain

If the OP is a parent (as opposed to a student who was trying to apply for a scholarship in 2016 as indicated by the OP’s other post), how does s/he know that the kid has gained 35 pounds if the kid did not mention it?

Thank you so much for the advice. I, unfortunately, left out some important information. She is isa sophomore and the weight gain has occurred since her freshman year. I know that she and her friends do drink wine sometimes so that is a contributing factor but she told us that she had cut way down on that.

She went for a check up at our pediatrician over Thanksgiving break. I thought for sure that the doctor would bring it up but she didn’t. I was a little disappointed by that because I thought the doctor could at least start the discussion.

35 pounds over 1 1/2 years isn’t alarming to me, nor that unusual for college students.

Is she still within a reasonable BMI range?

In HS my D gained quite a bit of weight her Jr/Sr year, since she had a BF and they went out a bunch. She also became quite lazy, and she had stopped doing a sport due to a knee injury. When i would see her eat fries, and junk it was hard not comment. Meanwhile in College, she has actually lost weight despite the occasional drinking. She has a kitchen and tries to cook for herself. If tried to bring up the subject at times when she was gaining as “its not about the weight, but about making healthy choices, eating and exercising” but it was a fine line. In the end, just like us adults, they have to decide for themselves

I try to keep us active while kids are here — walks, hikes, swim class. I think D2 was a little chagrined over Tgiving when I unintentionally outpaced her on a long uphill hike (I’ve been trail running for the past year :D, payoff!) She said she’d stopped exercising outside when the time changed, and was going to look into the campus fitness facility when she got back. So just modeling and encouraging activity might help.

I’d encourage a visit to a GYN (as a soph, she should be seeing one anyway as part of basic health maintenance whether or not she is sexually active). The doc will likely ask about weight gain/loss and that could be the starting point for a discussion. The larger point is that it gets discussed in a medical context, not with the emotional layers of a parent making comments. This will also help her become an advocate for herself.

She may have PCOS as previous posters have mentioned. I was dx’d at age 23 based on wildly irregular cycles and weight gain. Folks with PCOS are at risk for other long-term medical issues, so an early diagnosis could yield better options.

But 35 lbs – she knows she’s gained. That’s enough to go up a size or two.

Girls stop growing around 17. If she’s still eating like she did when she was growing, she’ll gain weight. It it quite normal to get curvier in the early 20s, and weight comes with that. She does some social drinking. Calories. College diets aren’t known to be great. I really don’t think 35 pounds on a college student in a year and half warrants a conversation, an insistence that she see a doctor, the removal of treats from the house, or a sudden surge of exercise on her break. Let her be.

@momofsenior1 for me, it was pop (soda). Never got it at home. Started drinking it daily in college.

I forgot about the pop @ordinarylives. Although I drank diet which was probably even worse.

It will be important to avoid an eating disorder when she starts trying to lose weight. A dietician would be helpful with that but the only thing a parent can do is to wait for the kid to start a conversation. If signs are evident of a developing disorder, then it is of course necessary to intervene. The original post mentioned this topic so wanted to address that as well.

Okay, so 35 pounds gained over a year and a half isn’t as alarming. Is she overweight? She might have started out very thin and gained to a normal, adult weight. Is she bothered by the weight gain?

I think you can just model good habits at this point. Moderation in eating. If you go to the gym or exercise classes invite her.If she brings up her weight gain, listen more than talk.

My D gained close to 60 pounds over sophomore + junior year. She was on an antidepressant that was a factor in part, I think. Also cafeteria eating, poor food choices when studying abroad, etc. Not alcohol in her case. It just about killed me to not say anything, while trying to serve healthy meals when she was at home, etc. Starting I guess the summer after junior year she quit the antidepressant, started doing tons of walking and making better food choices. Apparently (she said later) she didn’t think of this as a “diet” because that seemed too stressful. By graduation she was only about 10 pounds over her high school graduation weight, and she later lost those 10 pounds too. She’s been fine, weight-wise ever since, a couple of years now. Like many of us, she’ll always be the kind of person who needs to keep an eye on what she eats, but she really does seem fine. So not saying anything was really the right parental response, and I knew it was. It was just really hard for me. A learning experience for me too.

“She is isa sophomore and the weight gain has occurred since her freshman year.”

OK, this is definitely an important piece of information that was originally omitted. So she has gained weight from freshman to sophomore year. What exactly is the concern? I asked earlier but what is she saying about this? Weight fluctuates in some kids/women all their lives. Is she otherwise happy? If so, why does this weight gain matter?

With respect to “normal weight”, avoid subjective judgement of such, and consider things like body fat percentage and waist/height (since added muscle and bone weight is generally considered good), using published guidelines from medical research. Different people do seem to have varying notions of “normal weight”, so subjective judgements are unreliable in terms of using that as an indicator of health risk.

I would not bring it up as your concern. You can, however, set up several situations in which your D might bring it up in a way that you can offer support. (But it has to be that, not judgement! )

Ask her if there’s anything she’d like you to get from the grocery store or any meals she’s looking forward to having you prepare.

Ask her if she’d like you to get her a guest pass at your gym while she’s home.

Go clothing shopping together.

Any of these might be the catalyst for her to open up. There could be a medical reason. She could be eating for comfort because she’s unhappy. If she mentions those, you can help connect her with resources.

She could be eating socially or just eating too much for what her metabolism can handle. But even then, a person’s relationship with food is complicated and when another person injects themselves into that, it only becomes more so. You will be most helpful by accepting her at whatever weight and facilitating and changes she wants to make.

It always amazes me the difference of parenting both good and bad I guess. This is your child. Have any conversation with her that you want to. My 89 year old mother still tells me nicely when she feels I gained a bit of weight (and she’s right).

There is absolutely nothing wrong to say that your concerned. We get to do that as parents. We all need a kick in the butt once in a while. Obesity is nothing to laugh at and doing it alone is hard especially at school. When home discuss healthier eating habits and snacks. Cook healthy for her. Students don’t always know the best food choices. Have her go shopping for food at the market with you so she’s sees what your buying is healthy.

My son did the opposite and is losing a lot of weight at college but he looks great. He actually had /need to lose the weight. We sat down with him to discuss eating properly to maintain the energy for school. He moved into an school apartment this year (still has limited food plan) and took him shopping and actually basic learning on reading labels, salt content on certain things etc. Both high blood pressure and cholesterol run in my family. He is actually really active at school and that is helping with his weight loss. When at home he’s not as active.

I was shocked when I visited him at school and he actually had vegetables and fruit in his fridge! Trust me, they do listen to a point.

When my college daughter gained a bit more then the college 15 we talked with her. Once back in school she started working out, riding her bike just being active… She came home a few months later and was back to her normal healthy weight.

Since we all have some weight to lose she can do a weight challenge with you or friends. Colleges have this type of thing. If you feel stress, depression etc is part of it. I tell my kids,with college tuition you get all these free services and I point out anything from free tutoring to free mental health. I want them to know it’s OK to go talk to someone and get help. They don’t have to tell us if they don’t want to but at least seek the help they need for themselves. I know alot of you just assume these kids are fully grown adults. I look at them as learning how to be an adult. I just think even though they are in college and over 18 that they still might need our help /input at times.

If she’s had the same doctor her whole life that knows her and didn’t mention it then it’s probably fine.

My D definitely put on the “freshman 15” last year. She had been pretty active and a dancer and suddenly was doing nothing that would be considered exercise and the cafeteria food was not what she had eaten at home, so the pounds came easily. When she was home over the summer, DH asked if she wanted to work out with him and they made it their “thing” to spend time together. Never once did anyone say anything about her weight. We never said she should work out. It was just a thing the two of them could do together. She slimmed down, moved into an apartment and I was surprised at Thanksgiving to see she hasn’t put any weight back on. Having complete control over her food choices has made a huge difference. (And like a previous poster, we provide some additional money for her to eat healthier. She does send us photos when she cooks a good meal, so we know she is using the money for that.)

@weatherga that was exactly the story for one of mine: antidepressants made him not care. Once he went off, the weight came off since he started to care, began exercising and eating better. Of course, there are times when people need the meds, and some even need them long term. And many don’t gain weight on antidepressants. But it is a factor to consider when a child gains weight. The OP didn’t say that the daughter is on new meds so maybe not relevant.

@Knowsstuff Don’t be back in a few years lamenting that your kids have moved far away. My parents kept up a constant litany of their unhappiness with my weight, clothing, hair, and makeup choices throughout their lives (remaining one still does). I live far away and see them briefly once or twice a year because of it. Can count on at least a couple of unpleasant comments on every visit. I’d advise against that parenting style. And don’t think limiting it to one comment per visit or making comments about other people as a sideways in is enough. Kid will just be waiting for the shoe to drop every time.

@intparent… Sorry it’s not like that at all. Sorry if it came across that way and also for your experience. I have gained a few pounds and both at Thanksgiving suggested I should start to get back to excersing. It is more like we are watching out for each other. Our relationship with our kids is great but your comments are very well noted.