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Kristin, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 454
Experience:  Licensed Mental Health Counselor. 11+ years specialist in mental health. Expertise and insight!
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My son is almost 18 and obese. He knows he has a weight

Customer Question

My son is almost 18 and obese. He knows he has a weight problem, but won't do anything about it. All he does is sit at home and play on the computer or video games and eats. He won't listen to us when we ask him to go mow the yard, or get up and move so his weight won't get worse. What can we do?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kristin replied 6 years ago.

Hello and thank you for your question.

How long has your son been obese? Does obesity fun in the family? Also, do you think that he may be depressed in addition to being overweight?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
He started having weight issues when he entered school, and it just got worse over the years. I didn't see it, as people kept putting him down and attacking it, so I went on the defensive to try and protect him. I have encouraged him to exercise with him and try and do better eating, but that now does not work. He hates the school he is in, but he is about ready to graduate high school and says he will be happy to get out of there. He does have plans to attend a junior college. I have struggled with my weight since I was in my late teens. It is still a battle, but I go to Weight Watchers and exercise. My husband never had a problem with his weight until he started driving a cab and working 17-18 days. He does not get much sleep and is obese himself. He is pre-diabetic, which runs in his family. I don't know if my son is depressed. He enjoys doing the things he likes, but does not want to do what is asked of him (i.e. helping around the house).
Expert:  Kristin replied 6 years ago.

Okay thank you for the additional information.

It's probably very likely that being overweight is affecting him emotionally, though it's good to hear that he does enjoy certain activities still. He is lacking motivation though and you are right that he needs to exercise and eat well.

He really needs to full a sense of success that will keep him motivated. Sometimes kids do well with a team sport that gets them moving, or in finding an activity that is fun for them. Often the gym does get boring for many people and goes unused.

Obviously the bullying at school did not help his self esteem and he may have turned to food for emotional comfort, and so the problem got worse. You could set him up with a reward system, where he is given praise and rewards along the way for reaching weight loss goals. Whatever you and he decide on together that he would find it monetary or material or just a special night out, etc. Rewards always work better than negative reinforcement. Also, the school change might be a really good boost for him emotionally to start anew and become more motivated.

What I would suggest is that you have him see his physician (just his regular doctor) who can get him on an exercise and eating plan tailored to his needs. I would also recommend that maybe some counseling could really benefit him just to increase self-esteem and reaching goals, etc. If you can give me your zip code I can find some therapists in your area who specialize in weight loss, and your insurance name if you have insurance.

Kristin and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I've tried the monetary rewards, trying to get his BFF to maybe work out with him, he refuses to go to the doctor, because he hates the scale. He's not little anymore, to where I can just pick him up and put him in the car. If I make an appointment for him, he won't go, he will dig his heels in and just sit there and then I am the frustrated one. Zip code is 74135. I don't even know if he'd go to speak with a therapist. Then he will feel as if we think something is wrong with him. That seems to be his phrase lately, "nothing I do is good enough for you guys".
Expert:  Kristin replied 6 years ago.

I totally understand the position you are in, and how difficult it is when he won't help himself. Another option could be to find a weight loss support group in his area so he doesn't feel alone and has support in that area...

You cant make him go, you are right... and that is so frustrating i understand.

Here are some therapists in your area and these listed specialize in teens with weight/food issues: