Tuesday 21 November 2017

'She was stressed. Food started to represent something else to her'

Sometimes the reasons for a child's weight go deeper than a love of junk food. Dublin mum Susan* realised her eldest child Ann* (11) was eating to deal with a difficult family situation.

She says: "My daughter was just two-and-a-half when I had another child born with severe medical difficulties.

"We had to move house and she was uprooted. Focus was taken away from her and I was very distracted. She was stressed and I think food started to represent something to her.

"I suppose I was aware that she snacked a lot and certainly wasn't skinny. When she was seven I was having to buy clothes for an 11 or 12-year-old.

"By that time I'd had another child, who also had health issues . . . I probably let things slide with Ann for too long.

"I knew she wasn't happy and I felt it was my fault.

"I had to ask myself some difficult questions. Had I been neglectful? Possibly.

"No one else in the family is overweight and we eat healthily. Food became an emotional crutch for Ann, something that made her happy when her home life made her upset.

"Since September she's going to Aled Hughes and his classes have got her to believe in herself. Her shape is changing but, more importantly, she's confident and willing to participate.

"It's not about the number of kilos, it's about being healthy and happy."

(*names have been changed)

Irish Independent

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