Health and weight

Friends, relationships and weight

All of the young people we spoke to wanted to have friends, go out and enjoy themselves. Some had positive experiences to share but it wasn’t always that easy. Most lacked the self-confidence to join in and many were scared of being disliked because of their weight.
Friendships were often difficult for the young people we spoke to. Some felt that they were seen as ‘the shoulder to cry on’. They got angry and hurt when their friends were insensitive and moaned about how they had put on tiny amounts of weight. Some girls said that their female friends didn’t want to be seen in public with them or left them out once boys were around.
Life could be ‘unbearable’ especially when they were being bullied at school as well. (See Bullying and Low moods & depression). A few became so unhappy and lonely that they stayed in all the time or told their parents that they were meeting their friends when really they were going out alone.

Those who had eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia had totally different issues with friends. Friends sometimes got impatient with them if they thought they were being secretive about food and eating. Some friends had been supportive and encouraged them to see a doctor. For more information see Eating Disorders: Friends and Relationships.
Most girls thought that boys only wanted to be seen with thin girls so they didn’t stand a chance. Several girls had had relationships with boys who liked the way they looked, but that it wasn’t always a good thing because it could stop people from addressing their weight problem. Others said that it was usually boys who were similarly overweight who showed interest in them.
Most of the people we spoke to said that they felt embarrassed and self-conscious about their bodies. Some couldn’t imagine letting a boyfriend see them naked or having sex.
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Building confidence
Those who lost weight, even small amounts, said they felt happier in themselves and more confident which helped them make friends. The SHINE programme (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) had helped some, others were encouraged by a mentor/ team leader at school. Being more active and getting out and doing more generally helped with weight loss and feeling more confident.
Last reviewed July 2017.


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