Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter's Weight Gain Is Heavy Burden for Dad

DEAR ABBY: I am writing out of concern for my husband "Marc's" 9-year-old daughter, "Rachel." She visits us every other weekend. The rest of the time she lives with her mother in the next town.

Rachel is extremely overweight. We've watched her put on 20 more pounds this summer. Friends and family members, with the exception of Rachel's mother, have also become concerned about her weight problem.

Marc and I are both health-conscious. We make every effort to eat properly and live a healthy lifestyle. When Rachel is in our home, we make sure she eats well-balanced meals, and we never bring junk food into our home. Our problem is, Rachel's mother sees nothing wrong with her daughter bringing along a supply of fattening snacks when she comes to stay.

Time after time, Marc has tried to talk to his ex-wife about this problem. She refuses even to acknowledge that there is one! We're very concerned. We want Rachel to develop healthy habits, and we're worried that the teasing will be even worse when she begins fourth grade in the fall. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated. -- WORRIED ABOUT OUR GIRL IN TEXAS

DEAR WORRIED: I'm assuming Marc's daughter has a pediatrician. If she doesn't, she should. As Rachel's father, Marc has the obligation to inform her physician about his daughter's weight gain and eating habits.

Perhaps the mother will be more receptive to supervising her daughter's diet when she hears from a doctor that her daughter is headed for trouble. If not, Marc should talk to his lawyer.