Little Girl, Big Problems
"Sarah is 10 years old, and she weighs 173 pounds," says her mother, Gina. "Sarah has been on the chubby side, and we thought she'd grow out of it. In three weeks, Sarah has gained 13 pounds. She's never full."
"When she comes home from school, it's always the same story: â€˜I didn't have lunch,' â€˜they didn't have anything I like,' â€˜make me something to eat,'" Sarah's father, Enrique, adds. "Gina will make her a sandwich, a quesadilla. Basically, a meal and not a snack. Then she has dinner a couple of hours later."
"She's looking at the portions that my husband will serve himself. She wants the same size," Gina says.
[AD]Gina says her daughter often hides food all over the house " in her bookcase, behind the TV, behind her bed and even in the hallway closet. She fears that Sarah will be ostracized by her peers. "It hurts me when I see her standing next to other kids. She's so much bigger " her stomach, you see her cheeks, her double chin. Sarah just started junior high, and one little boy started calling her â€˜Buddha,'" she shares. "If we don't turn it around now, it's not going to get fixed at all."
Enrique blames his wife for their daughter's overeating. "Gina doesn't know how to say no," he says. "I'll say, â€˜You can't have soda' â€˜We're trying to cut chips out.' Gina, who does all the grocery shopping, brings it back into the house."
"I tell him, â€˜You're the one who always goes to buy the fast food, so it can't always be me,'" Gina says.
Dr. Phil turns to Enrique in the audience. "You think a big part of this problem is Gina," he notes.
"That's correct, because the majority of the food that we buy is always quick and easy. It's usually just a bunch of junk food," Enrique answers.
"I think we're both at fault," Gina rejoins. "We both go to the store. We both buy the fast food. It's not just one person doing it."
"Do you get that what's happening with your daughter is sealing her fate to a lifetime of ridicule socially, being set apart from her friends, from her peers, [her] health breaking down?" Dr. Phil says. "You realize what we're talking about here is your daughter's very life?"[AD]
"Correct," Gina says.
"They're saying yes, but I don't believe them. If they truly understood how much danger Sarah is in, I think they would have made the changes already," Dr. Jim interjects. "In general, one out of two people is going to get heart disease, but because of Sarah's extra weight, her risk has more than doubled, it's tripled. Unless you make changes, she will suffer a heart attack some time in her life."
Dr. Phil shares one of the top three ways parents make their kids obese: shaping taste and the environment. "Kids aren't born with a preference for French fries and Twinkies. They have to learn that," he explains. "They acquire this taste based on what's in the environment."
Dr. Phil asks Polly, a staff member, to don a fat suit. She is carrying around 80 pounds of extra weight, similar to Enrique and Gina's daughter, Sarah.
"Stand up, if you will," Dr. Phil instructs.
Holding on to the stage, Polly rises with difficulty. "What we have here is the padding that gives us the bulk, and we also have 80 pounds of lead weight on her," Dr. Phil points out.
"I'm already more exhausted," Polly says. "It's harder for me to breathe."
[AD]Dr. Phil instructs her to sit on the floor and then to rise again. She struggles with both actions.
Dr. Phil addresses Gina and Enrique. "Is your daughter very active?" he asks.
"She joined softball, but she's having difficulty with certain things," Gina says.
"If you have this extra weight, you don't feel like doing that," Dr. Jim says. "All of this extra fat is metabolically active, and it slows your brain down. It makes you not even want to exercise."