Dear Harlan: My son came home from college after his first year. The first thing that stood out to my wife and me was how much weight he has gained. He must have put on at least 30 pounds over the past four months. We had to get him all new clothes over the holidays. He blamed it on late-night eating and not a lot of exercise. He used to be a two-sport athlete, so eating too much wasn’t an issue. When I bring it up, he doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s back at school, and I’m worried he will continue to gain weight. What can we do to help him? — Concerned Parents
Dear Concerned Parents: I see it all the time. I eat at those all-you-can-eat dining halls when I’m visiting campuses. I’ve seen Insomnia Cookies stores (they deliver hot cookies until 3 a.m.). It’s hard not to gain weight when the only time you sweat is from eating hot wings. I’ve got a few suggestions: (1) Have him visit the doctor next time he’s in town. The doctor can discuss his weight and nutrition. (2) Rule out any emotional issues. One of the most common symptoms of depression is weight gain. Check in with him and make sure he has someone to talk to on campus (therapist, counselor). (3) Suggest he get involved in something active. Whether it’s an intramural sport, an active job or club sports, he needs to move. That said, weight gain can be normal. Going from being a two-sport athlete to a no-sport sedentary student can cause weight gain – that, and warm cookies delivered to your door at 2 a.m.