Health and weight

Sue - Interview 41

Age at interview: 45

Brief outline: Sue, mother of 12 year old Alex, thinks that Alex would benefit from losing weight and that something must be done now, but is reluctant to make too much of an issue out of it. Instead, she is making more time for Alex and for them to exercise together.

Background: Sue is separated and a mother of 2 children aged 12 and 15.Ethnic background: White European.

Audio & video

Sue is the mother of 12 year old Alex who she describes as confident and outgoing. Sue says Alex has been overweight ever since she was a baby, and has always been distinctly bigger than other children. Sue has also noticed difference between Alex and her older brother' while Alex would always eat as much as she could of the foods she was given, especially anything sweet, Sue would worry that her son wasn’t eating enough.
Looking back, Sue says she can identify things that she did that might have contributed to Alex’s weight issues. For example, when Alex was little, Sue would give her food as a way of managing her behaviour when they were out. She also reflects on the role of other family members, specifically Alex’s grandmother and father. She says Alex’s grandmother uses food as a treat, and feeds them processed ready meals, while Sue’s ex-husband finds it difficult to say no to his daughter. This has led to tension between Sue and her mother and ex-husband.
Sue says her daughter has a fear of being judged about her weight, and that this has led her to stop playing sports at school. Alex attends a public all-girls school, and Sue says the pupils are all obsessed with their weight and body image – although her daughter has told her that no-one talks about these issues. Sue is also concerned about her daughter’s emerging sexuality and choice of provocative clothes, something she has noticed as a trend amongst bigger girls.
Although Sue suspects that Alex may just fall into the obese category and thinks that she would benefit from losing about a stone in weight, she does not weigh her because she doesn’t want to make too much of an issue out of it. Alex, however, wants to go on a diet and has asked her mum to take her to WeightWatchers. Sue is reluctant about this, and has been trying to convince Alex to increase her exercise and watch what she eats until she grows out of her weight. Sue is worried about her daughter’s future health and thinks that something must be done now before she reaches her late teens. For this reason, Sue has decided to put time aside to help Alex by having family time, family meals, and taking exercise together. Sue says that it’s been difficult to fit things in because she works full-time, and her and the children are involved in activities most evenings of the week.
Despite her professional background and training, Sue has found it difficult to know what to do for the best with Alex. She believes that enough isn’t being done by schools, PCTs (Primary Care Trusts), and doctors. She recommends that other parents get as much information as possible and seek out support from other parents on discussion forums on the internet.


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