Tween with elevated blood sugar and cholesterol...what to do?
I was wondering if you could give me some guidance for my best friend. I am asking because they have tried so many things with no success for her son. My friend's son is 12 years old, and they have found out this week that his cholesterol and blood sugar levels were very elevated...and she is a wreck about it.
I am going to be completely honest with you...he is very overweight for his age (195 lbs) and has been almost all of his life. He only plays XBOX Live...literally all day long this summer (no exercise except for his mouth and his fingers...LOL), and gets very upset to the point of physical confrontation with his parents and younger brother when they make him go outside for any kind of exercise (he threw a fit when they recently took a family trip to Universal & Animal Kingdom a couple of days because of all the walking they were making him do).
They took him to Nemours clinic (which suggested regular visits with a dietician and a psychologist), here in Orlando, about 3 years ago for help, but he didn't want to go because he didn't like what they told him he should be eating, nor did his father who took everything they said very personally, however, he only eats french fries (baked a certain way), mashed potatoes, and plain unseasoned meat, he tries to sneak 3 scoops of ice cream at night if they were to allow him to make his own ice cream bowl, he sneaks food up to his room, such as candy, cookies, you name it, I have seen it under his bed or his pillow...his parents say that they know that they have spoiled him by allowing him to eat a separate meal every night too.
My question is how do they get him to realize and understand the importance of a lifestyle change at his age.
He received his class schedule for school already and he has band and not PE as an elective so he won't be exercising when school starts either.
I suggested to her son that he propose an exercise plan to his parents and that he help plan some meals (which they tried before when they went to Nemours, but they only went to Nemours for about 3 visits then it became such a struggle with her son that her husband said it wasn't worth the physical aggravation that they would go through to get him to go).
I have told my best friend and her husband that they can't waver on what they decide is the best for him. The mother is afraid that he will sneak food at school as he has been known to do.
The thing that I am most afraid of is his physical aggression, especially because food is his motivation, which is so sad to say. He gets so mad and physically goes after his younger brother, has called his parents the worst names I have ever heard, and has no problem hitting his father....leaving many bruises!! He gets very enraged then after he eats something, he is much calmer....food is his drug of choice, you could say...I don't know how else to say it.
As I said, he is 12 years old, so you also have puberty and that "teenage attitude", along with the other health issues going on at the same time, but he has always had anger issues my friend said.
Please advise me so that I can help my friend, who is so beside herself. What should she and her husband do...make him go back to a clinic? Her husband said that he would hire a personal trainer ut her son said he wants to try it on his own...what should they do? Thank you for your help.
First thing (in my opinion as a parent) they need to do is get him back into counseling. They also need some counseling. The physical aggression is not acceptable. He needs anger management treatment and also some professional input into his behavior issues as well as his food issues. The parents need to know how to set boundaries and provide a safe household for all.
Second thing, I would recommend is for the entire family to rework their approach to food. No one can go wrong eating a healthy diet and keeping the junk out of the house.
Don't let them use the excuse that the younger brother shouldn't be "punished" with the same foods served for the other child or that the other family members deserve a treat. It just causes the same cycle--boy with medical problem resents the other family members who get to eat off his plan and the rest of the family risks the same health conditions.
I would encourage them to lead a more active lifestyle in general. If video games are the way to his heart--take the xbox away and only get ones that require activity. Make weekend activities mandatory and active--choose roller skating or nature walks over movies and meals out.
With high blood sugar, the family can no longer just let it go because it isn't worth the aggravation.
On a variety of diabetes boards this sort of questions always comes up. Basically it is "how can I force this person to change?" The bottom line is that no one can force anyone else to make changes. Granted, since he is only 12, to a great extent the parents do have a lot of control. But they need to lead by example. That means healthy meals that everyone eats and exercise. I know I sound harsh, but if all he does is play Xbox, then you have to take it away. The whole family should go for a walk. Use the carrot and stick method if necessary. 1 hour walk = 1 hour xbox. Also, they should be the leaders with food as well. If there is no ice cream in the house, then he can't eat it, can he? And there is no reason for the rest of the family to think of that as punishment for them. Ice cream once a week or on special occasions can be fine (don't buy the huge tubs!). It is healthy for everyone.
As for school, prepare a healthy and filling lunch with snacks. I doubt he has a well paying job so any money he gets to buy junk is probably coming from the parents too. So that should be limited as well.
Finally, it absolutely doesn't work to warn him about future complications. At that age, kids not only don't have any real concept of the future or consequences to their actions. Threats won't work and will only upset everyone. I suspect that the entire family needs counselling if this young man is ruling the roost.
A big stumbling block in any plan of action is the fact that he resorts to violence when he doesn't get his way.That's so far beyond mere stubbornness and lack of desire to change, that I can't imagine what to say.
Agreeing with Cora....it's not exactly any of your business, despite how much you truly care about these people. You can be there for emotional support for this child's mother, giving her encouragement, but it's up to the parents to do something. This is one of those "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" situations.
If both parents are serious about getting their son to change...one thing that sometimes helps children like that is for them to see what's going to happen to them in a sort of "shocking" or upsetting way. As in, take him to the dr and have the dr. explain what he's going to be like in 10 years (dead by 40) if he doesnt' make some changes.
Is he old enough for military school? If his parents don't have the backbone to parent him, maybe military school would be a good choice.
Military School! This kid has very little disipline and respect for his family and his self. I agree with the previous post that the parents should make him a doctors appointment and have the doctor go over extensively what can happen and what is most likely to happen if he continues his unhealthy ways. Let him know just how serious this is and make him understand it is very real. His behavior could be attributed to his unhealthy lifestyle as well. I'd have him see a couseler too. As far as unhealthy foods-- he wouldn't have access to them most of the time if his parents limited what they bought. Perhaps the entire family should try to change their eating habits and try to get their son more envolved with learning how to cook healthily. It will be hard and occasional junk food isn't a bad thing. Moderation is key. They do need to limit his time on Xbox Live. I know how addictive that can be, but children need to live in the real world more than a virtual one. People who spend all day at a computer or gaming system are often crabby and easily irritated. He needs to socialize and find interest in the world. Perhaps his parents should try and find activities he would like to do instead of letting the Xbox baby sit all the time.
I agree that he needs to hear it from a doctor but I ALSO think that the parents to do - seoarately from him. The father needs to understand that HIS laxist attitude (more aggravation than it's worth...) could kill his son. That HIS job as a parent (and the same goes for the mother) is to ensure his son grows up healthy. Parenting classes might be a good idea ...
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