Dear Annie: Four of my five siblings and their partners are tremendously overweight. Two of my sisters claim to have the “family fat genes.” I don’t believe such nonsense.
I love my siblings dearly, but sadly, their children are now “blossoming” into overweight adults and a few have children of their own who are getting pudgy. I live in another state, and when I visit them, I find it especially difficult to eat well and get enough exercise. My weight has been a struggle, and I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. I see the effort to maintain my weight as essential to my health. But the few times I have raised the subject, my siblings either refuse to talk about it or laugh it off, saying, “I enjoy eating and don’t want to outlive my retirement.”
I know I am blessed to have the support of my spouse in my weight loss journey. My siblings are not so fortunate. When I visit, I sometimes suggest healthier meal options and a walk after dinner, but those things have little effect when coupled with a family barbecue complete with high-fat, high-calorie foods and multiple sugary desserts, not to mention hours of sitting in front of the TV.
I know that obesity is a complex issue. I know they have to want to change. But I am terribly worried about their health. Is there anything I can say or do to encourage them? – Concerned Sibling and Auntie
Dear Auntie: Research indicates there truly are “fat genes” – genetic markers that show an increased likelihood of obesity. However, those are the very people who must work harder to exercise regularly and watch their diet in order to stay healthy. You have done this, but your siblings have found it too overwhelming. All you can do is model healthier alternatives and periodically talk to each one individually, letting them know how much you love them, and that you will be supportive and helpful whenever they are ready.