DEAR ABBY: I am a teenage girl with an obese mother. She doesn't exercise much. She started going to the gym about a month ago, but since has stopped. She's what you'd call a habitual snacker. At night she'll finish eating one unhealthy food and then begin eating another. (She often eats more than 1,500 calories in one of her nightly "snacks.")
To make matters worse, she eats in front of the TV and makes me fetch her food rather than walking to the kitchen herself. When I try to talk to her about her bad habits, she gets defensive and angry. I want her to lose weight and am willing to help her. How can I confront my mom about her problem? -- HUNGRY FOR HELP IN NORFOLK, VA.
DEAR HUNGRY FOR HELP: You are a caring and concerned daughter, and for that you deserve to be praised. However, no one can "help" your mother until she's willing to admit she has a problem. The behavior you described isn't "evening snacking"; it's bingeing. Until she's ready to confront what is eating HER, she will not stop trying to fill the emptiness inside with food.
Rather than confronting your mother yourself, enlist the help of a close friend or family member. If your mother agrees, her next step should be to check the phone book for the listing of the nearest chapter of Overeaters Anonymous. They charge no dues or fees, and no membership lists are kept. There is no shaming, no weighing in and no embarrassment. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. When your mother attends a meeting, she'll be welcomed with open arms into a fellowship of compassionate women and men who all share her problem.
There are more than 8,000 Overeaters Anonymous groups worldwide and chapters in almost every city. However, if your mother has difficulty locating one, help her by visiting � HYPERLINK "http://www.overeatersanonymous.org" ��www.overeatersanonymous.org� or sending a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope to OA World Service Office, P.O. Box 44020, Rio Rancho, NM 87174-4020.