My mom has gained so much weight over the last few years that she's having a really hard time getting around. She's a really great mom, so I don't want to make it sound like she's not as good of a mom just because of the weight. But Because of her weight right now my sister has to do more and more things for her.

My mom is 44 years old, 5'4" and more than 550 pounds at this point. She started to gain weight about 10 years ago (she used to be 165lbs) when my dad died in a really terrible car accident. She was already getting pretty big (375-400lbs?) when I left for college 3 years ago, but I feel like her weight has gotten so out of control since then. Left alone with my little sister, my gorgeous mom is heavier and heavier and heavier every time I come home.

When I'm home I see all this crap that she is busy eating, and she claims that its just because I'm back. Before I left she used to eat a lot, but now its just crazy. This last time I was home my sister hinted that she actually "tones it down" for when I'm around "because I give her such a hard time about her weight." I can't imagine the crap she's ingesting while I'm away!!!

The thing is that she's so big right now that she can't fit behind the wheel of the car, so my sister has to drive her everywhere. I tell my sister not to go pick up food for her all the time, and she mostly denies it, but I know that she's probably too embarrassed to tell the truth. My sister has to help her with countless "other things" around the house too, since my mom is having such a hard time standing, getting up, etc.

I've tried everything with her, but she has somehow found away to diffuse every suggestion I make. Ugh.

She can barely make it from one room to the other without getting super out of breath and needing to rest for a while before making it to the next one. She hasn't been up the stairs in who knows how long. She's not disabled, just that between being out of shape and her weight being so high right now, she can't do most things. My sister is talking about trying to get her one of those mobility scooters so that she can get around despite the state she's in.

I know this is probably selfish of me, but I have such mixed feelings now about my college graduation at the end of the year. I know that part of the reason she hasn't come out to visit me yet is because it's getting harder to get her on a plane. She says she'll come out for my graduation--apparently planning on buying a row seats and renting a scooter to make it around campus--but I'm not entirely sure she will brave the embarrassment. And quite frankly, there is part of me (shallow, I know) that is scared of showing off an immobile 600lb mom in a scooter to all my friends on my big day. On the other hand, I'd be heartbroken if my mom never made it to my college graduation because simply she got too fat to come.

What can a girl in my position do? What should I do? What the heck is going on? Or am I being selfish here? How is it fair that she gets to eat like this, and we have to manage all with the consequences?

My gorgeous mom when I was growing up My mom getting so big when I was in high school Me out with my mom this summer, she can barely walk. You can see why I'm feeling embarrassed...


Your mother is in a seriously dangerous place, and this really is in the realm of nutrition and medicine more than physical fitness (as far as priorities go). Her endocrine, cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal systems have to be off-the-charts bad.

There's a good movie that came out recently called Fed Up: it lays out a lot of the more horrible aspects of western diets that contribute to obesity and diabetes. You may want to sit down and watch it with her.

She has some incredible distance between a healthy diet and where she is now, and honestly a physician should really be involved to help manage that weight loss. She's very likely a clear candidate for weight loss surgery, and a physician friend of mine has told me of cases of extreme obesity (which your mother has) where removing the weight needs to be carefully tracked.

It's really not out of line to make the clear case that her life is quite literally at stake. People that are ~400 pounds overweight don't last very long and her quality of life has to be extremely compromised at this point.

On a personal note, the embarrassment you feel at the idea of your mother attending your graduation is understandable. A sobering aspect of growing up is that you need to care for the people who once cared for you. If you can imagine how heart broken you would be to hear your mother say that she was embarrassed for you to be somewhere with her, I'm sure it would hurt her likewise.

Focus on helping her. Talk to her doctor, get the point across to other family members: you don't have a lot of time.

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