Dear David Coleman: My daughter is overweight but how can I help her without giving her any hang-ups?

Q I have an 11-year-old daughter who is somewhat overweight. I know it could get worse because I was a very big child myself. My mam never ever told me I was fat so I never bothered to lose weight until I was 19. I was often teased as a child and I don’t want my daughter to be. What’s the best way of going about this without giving her any hang-ups?

David replies: In the first instance it would be nice to know if your daughter is already conscious of her weight, or her body shape. Has she already had any teasing? Does she ever use the words ‘overweight’ or ‘fat’, or describe other people using them? If she herself is self-conscious about how she looks, then it is more straightforward for you to speak with her about her body and what is healthier for her.

If she is oblivious to her weight, and you are very concerned by it, then you may want to approach the issue from a family health perspective.

The focus needs to be on everyone in the family and taking a shared approach to being healthy and fit. Body weight is an important part of health and fitness, so it will make sense to be talking about your bodies in this context.

Because you have had the experience of recognising and addressing your own weight issues as a young adult, you can use that as an example of how you have been in a situation where you saw a need to change and then took action.

Even if she doesn’t see a need to change, you can still include her while taking action as a family.

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