DR. WALLACE: I'm overweight, and so are my parents and my older brother. Food addiction has caused all of this extra weight. We all "pig out" at every chance to consume rich and fatty foods. The four of us consume an entire pie, with ice cream in one sitting, even after a big meal. And sometimes we cut into the second pie as well!
Besides this overeating, we are all "couch potatoes" and we hardly ever get any exercise. My mom doesn't work and watches a lot of TV during the day and my dad has an office job and doesn't exercise. At least my brother and I ride our bicycles to school.
I've recently started to get serious about my weight and am encouraged by a friend from church who is a licensed nutritionist. I've tried to convince my parents and my brother to join me in getting healthy and losing this weight, but they just keep on eating and getting fatter. But believe me, big is not beautiful and it is totally unhealthy!
Please help me to encourage my family to lose weight. They need to be reminded of some of the physical problems that are caused by obesity and they need to hear from you how dangerous obesity can be. — Nameless, Fort Smith, Ark.
NAMELESS: There is a direct link between excess weight and the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Being overweight is also suspected of increasing the probability of developing high blood pressure. All of these serious ailments can affect the quality of life and even shorten it.
It's possible that your family will change their eating habits once they observe the positive changes that will be taking place with you. Congratulations and all the best as you win your battle over food addiction.
FASTING IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR TEENS
DR. WALLACE: I'm about 15 pounds overweight and I'm embarrassed to wear my bathing suit. My friend told me that the fastest way to lose weight is to fast. She said that I could lose the 15 pounds if I didn't eat any food (but drink lots of water) for 10 days. If this is safe, I'll do it. What do you think? — Nameless, Miami, Fla.
NAMELESS: Fasting, especially for teens, is not suitable for weight reduction. All fasting diets involve the loss of muscle tissue as well as fat. This could be dangerous during the teen years when the body is undergoing rapid growth spurts and should be adding, not subtracting, lean tissue. There is also evidence that fasting may produce a loss of bone tissue and, again, teens run the risk of possibly stunting their natural growth.
It may take a bit longer, but proper exercise and a nutritious diet is the safest weight-loss method.
YOU ARE A WISE YOUNG LADY
DR. WALLACE: You said that if a teen's parents smoke, the teen will smoke and if they drink, so will the teen, and if they are overweight their children will also be fat. I don't think this is true. Both of my parents drink, smoke and overeat, but at age 16, I don't smoke or drink and I am very cautious about the foods that I eat. — Nameless, Memphis, Tenn.
NAMELESS: I said that parents should set a good example for their children and that if they smoke, drink and overeat, chances are high that their children do the same because mom and dad are a child's primary role models
Wise children notice unacceptable parental behavior and do their best not to follow. It's quite obvious that you are a wise young lady!
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.