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My Little Sister Is Overweight

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
my little sister is overweight. she weighs more than me and she is ten. i just turned thirteen. she's also taller. i am 5'4 at 98 pounds. she is 5'6 at 207. she hates her weight and all of the kids at school make fun of her. i can't bear to see this, but i'm mostly concerned about her health. she has no problems- yet. the doctor said if she continues her eating habbits it could kill her. is there anyway that i can give her some tips on losing weight without majorly offending her? and i also wanted to know if 98 pounds is avarage for a 5'4 thriteen year old. thanks!
Signed: My Little Sister Is Overweight

Dear My Little Sister Is Overweight,


TeenHealthFX thinks that it is wonderful that you are so concerned about your sister. Her current weight does compromise her physical well-being, but also her emotional well-being if she is being teased by peers. FX thinks that the most helpful thing you could do for your sister would be to make some new family goals when it comes to being active and eating in a healthy way. Talk to your parents about having a family meeting where you can all brainstorm ways in which all of you can help each other to make healthy changes to improve overall physical well-being. If the family works together on making healthy changes, your sister will not feel singled out – in fact, it shouldn’t even be presented that this being done for her, but rather for everyone’s benefit. If the family works together and the household environment becomes one with a focus on healthier eating and being more active, there is also a greater chance that your sister will adopt these lifestyle changes more permanently than if the focus was just on a diet.


At your family meeting, consider discussing the following:


  • Having annual physical exams. Every member of the family could have a physical with their primary care physician. Based on the physicals, each family member will come up with a goal. For example, your sister’s goal might be to lose weight. If your father has high cholesterol, his goal would be to lower it. Your goal might be to improve your endurance with exercise.


  • How can the family become more active together? If your family spends a lot of time on the computer, in front of the television, or sitting around – think about ways in which you can all be more on the go. You could do volunteer work, start gardening, or run errands all together. The focus here is not specifically on exercise, but on finding ways to occupy your time where you are moving more and are cutting down on “couch potato” time.


  • How can exercise be incorporated more into the daily routine? Whether it’s bike riding, hiking, yoga classes, walking, weight lifting, tennis, swimming, or any other type of exercise, how can these activities be incorporated into the family’s regular routine.


  • What kind of food to keep in the house? Go through the cupboards together and get rid of foods with high fat content, high sugar contents, and the pre-packaged foods that have lots of additives and preservatives in them. Brainstorm together the kinds of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and poultry, and whole grain foods that can replace the unhealthier ones.


  • What to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Work together to ensure that meals are healthier, low-calorie meals, with plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Get some healthy-cooking cookbooks and take some cooking classes as a family where you can learn how to make healthy dishes that also taste delicious.  


By making these kinds of changes together as a family, your sister will not feel singled out, everyone in the family will benefit in terms of their physical well-being, and focusing on overall lifestyle changes rather than short-term dieting will have more of a chance of a lasting effect on everyone involved.


As for your question about your height and weight, FX calculated the body mass index (BMI) of a 13 year old weighing 98 pounds at 5’4” and found that you have a BMI of 16.9 which puts you in a healthy weight range. One useful way to determine whether someone is in a healthy weight range is by calculating their BMI. BMI is a calculation that uses height and weight to estimate how much body fat someone has. It is used to determine how appropriate a person’s weight is for a certain height and age. There are different BMI calculators used for children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain on their website what the BMI is, what various BMI findings indicate, and how to calculate your BMI based on height and weight. To learn more about BMI and calculate your BMI, go to the following link:


If you have any questions about making healthy changes in diet and exercise, or questions or concerns about your own height and weight, speak to your primary care physician or another medical health professional. If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

Signed: TeenHealthFX