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Health and weight (young people)

Advice to other young people, schools and parents

We asked the young people that we interviewed to give other young people, parents and schools advice about how to make things better for those dealing with issues to do with overweight and under-weight. Here is what they said:

To other young people 

• Remember that you are not alone and that there are many other young people that are also dealing with weight problems.
• Try and talk to other young people with the same problems. It helps.
• Get in touch with a relevant charity organisation. They can give information, advice and support.
• Ask your doctor what help is available in your local area.
• When you are feeling down and depressed talk to someone; a family member or a friend.
• If you are planning to lose weight, join a group. It helps a lot to be doing it together.
• Losing weight is hard but it will benefit your health and boost your confidence.
• Take exercise.
• Keep positive.
• Take the dog for a walk every day.
• Change your lifestyle.
• Don’t give in to peer pressure or the media. Have more confidence in yourself.
• Don’t worry about what other people think or say just be comfortable in yourself.
• Don’t be embarrassed about your weight.
• If you are planning to lose weight, ask for support from family, friends and even teachers.

 

Even if you have developed a weight-related health problem there are always things you can do to...

Even if you have developed a weight-related health problem there are always things you can do to...

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I guess it would just kind of be don’t worry about it because if you’re that determined to lose the weight, you will at some point. And you know puberty isn’t an easy thing to be going through especially when you’re this size you know. And you just, you do need to think about that. Also of you know deep down that you’re eating healthy… and that you’re doing enough exercise and doing the right things for your body. Then you know you’re going be doing something right and that is going to show at some point.
 
I mean sometimes you would … you may end up with things that are related to your weight like other health issues such as diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome. And you … it, it does hurt and you kind of think. “Oh.” Because I know when I found out I started crying because I thought my weight’s got the better of me. But you know. I think there is something that can be done and since I have been diagnosed new ways to lose weight and help relieve the affects of it, have come out. And you know, I think you can always make positive steps towards something. You know it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom and ‘oh I’ll going to be this size for the rest of my life’. You know. You can, you can each a healthy normal weight… if you’ve got the right mindset.  
 

Don'’t let your weight get you down, exercise and don'’t pay attention to the nasty comments of others.

Don'’t let your weight get you down, exercise and don'’t pay attention to the nasty comments of others.

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Just don’t let it bog you down really. If you really want to do it, you’ll find it in yourself to do it. And like, I know it sounds really corny and stuff, but exercise really is the key, it really does help and like and you can definitely do it like, you’ve just got to put your mind to it, like if you like want it enough you can do it. And just don’t listen to people when they make nasty comments and pass judgement, just think you’re, you’re so much better than them by not saying anything back. And like, its, we’re all in the same boat aren’t we really? So it can be done, it’s achievable, it’s achievable for anyone [laughs].
 

The experience of bullying, although devastating at the time, made Sam a stronger and better person.

The experience of bullying, although devastating at the time, made Sam a stronger and better person.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
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I think the second thing may be, is that, you know, even if you do experience bullying, I think in some ways, I think looking back on my own personal experience, it will probably make you more stronger I think in the longer run.  Because you know, you experience something that is quite intense, and probably quite devastating at that time, but can actually make you so much a better person, I think.
 

There are services in your community to help you. Connexions is a good place to start as they can give you advice and information as to where to go.

There are services in your community to help you. Connexions is a good place to start as they can give you advice and information as to where to go.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
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What about if they are experiencing an eating disorder or if they are comfort eating?
 
I think its important to remember I think if you’re experiencing some kind eating disorder or comfort eating or bulimia, anorexia or any of those things. I think, you know, there are support services out there. I mean there is, you know, BEAT, who are the National, it used to be the National Eating Diseases Association and they run help lines for younger people on the web site. You know, there are lots of other localised support services for people with eating disorders and you know, it can be very much anonymous, you know, you don’t have to disclose yourself, you don’t have to take your names or anything like that. You can just go on there and find out information. And I think when you become ready to think about recovery or just you know, talk to someone it might be all you need. You know, they are there. And, you know, and also don’t be afraid to speak to speak to people like Connexions workers for example. You know, that is what I spoke to quite a lot. And you know, Connexions workers can always point you in the right direction, or there might be other types of workers, at a youth group for example, a youth worker, or you know, some kind of drop for young people, like information centre or whatever. It depends who you are really. You know, there are people around that can kind of put you in the right direction. Often, you know, its very difficult to find these places, that might help, but they are there.  
 

Tell family and friends that you are trying to lose weight; you need their support and...

Tell family and friends that you are trying to lose weight; you need their support and...

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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Anaan' But I think its also you need support from the people around you, because you know, if nobody else is helping you do these things, like you’re trying to eat healthier food, I hate to use the word diet, no offence. But I…
 
Naz' That’s what you, that’s what [name] said, you can’t say the word dieting in SHINE. We’re not dieting, we’re healthy eating.
 
Anaan' Yes. So if you are trying to eat healthier but then everyone else in your house is eating McVitie’s chocolate biscuits or whatever, that’s what makes it harder for you, because you’re going to have, you’re going to want to have one of them, but then you might be like, oh no, I don’t want to eat that. Well you can eat it, you just don’t eat loads of it, have one rather than 20.
 
But it makes it harder. Doesn’t it?
 
Anaan' Yes. So, I think, you know, telling people as well, because, you know, its embarrassing, you know, because sometimes people are saying ‘oh what do you want to diet for’. What are you doing this for. You don’t need to, you’re not huge, whatever, when really you’ve ….
 
Naz' Deep down they are saying it.
 
Anaan' If you want to do I think they just need to be okay with that and accept it. You know, I don’t know, I think, support is one of those things that you do really need.
 
Support from?
 
Anaan' Family, from friends.
 

If you have an eating disorder, get help; go see a doctor

If you have an eating disorder, get help; go see a doctor

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Female
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Don't get anorexic. It ruins your health. It ruins your family. It ruins everything. If you can avoid it, then do so. If you need to see a doctor, go and see a doctor. It’s so much better in the long run to just get the help.  Because it will, it can kill you. It is a killer, and that goes for boys, girls, old or young. It doesn't matter, it can kill. And it’s a very serious thing. You’ve got, you've just got to, I’ve been through it, right, and luckily I've lived to tell the tale because there’s a lot of people who don't. But I mean it did destroy my family and we had to pick it up and put it back together. And it destroyed my health. And I've had to pick it up and put it back together. And it nearly lost my career. It nearly lost me my career. And if people don't want them three things then fine. But I know that I wouldn't choose it.
 
 

Joining a weight management programme, eating more healthily at home and doing fun activities with the whole family, have all helped Izzy.

Joining a weight management programme, eating more healthily at home and doing fun activities with the whole family, have all helped Izzy.

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Just like try and do more exercise and if there is somewhere like this place try and, just try and go to somewhere like that. Because it really does help you and it boosts your confidence up a lot and just eat more healthy things ‘cause you really do feel a lot better when you are around people who know what you’ve been through, well, yes  just like help other people as much as you can if they’re in the same sort of situation, and just help each other through it.
 
Just like try and eat better and if you’re like a parent try and give your children more healthy things and try and get them into that sort of regime where they eat better because with my family  we try to eat better but sometimes it doesn’t work, but yes. We just have some nights  where we have like a little treat but that’s like every month or something like that.
 
And just like try and keep the chocolate and things in the house down and don’t have as many treats.
 
Right, so keep temptation out the way?
 
Yeah, just like when you do get temptation to have chocolate or something just like  go and play on the computer or something like that or do something a bit more active.
 
Not necessarily on the computer though [laughter]. Like if you’ve got a Wii try and do that or something because that’s quite active as well.
 
And that’s helped me a little bit as well.
 
We’ve got the Wii board and it’s really fun and the Wii Fit is really quite fun as well because you can have like a family party thing where everybody’s around the Wii board and it’s funny [laughter] and it gives you a bit of entertainment.
 
Yes, it’s really fun. 
 

Don'’t ignore the health advice given by medical people. Try to exercise everyday and eat healthily.

Don'’t ignore the health advice given by medical people. Try to exercise everyday and eat healthily.

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Probably just important that it’s to sort of eat healthy and to exercise. That’s something I d-, that I learnt when I first came over here. They said, they mentioned, I think it was in a news item or something, where scientists had found out that exercising for half an hour a day was good for you. And that sort of thing, when people do say things like that, take it on board and consider it. Because a lot of people don’t, you know, if you say, when scientists say, “Eat five a day” a lot of people just disregard it. So I think listening to sort of people that know what they’re talking about and sort of, you know, trying to follow that and don’t just ignore it. It doesn’t go away. 
 
Advice to schools and teachers 

• Have an anti-bullying policy.
• Learn to recognise bullying. Children affected by it do not always talk about it. 
• If you can’t help with bullying put the child and his/her family in touch with the appropriate services. 
• Make school dinners tasty, healthy and cheaper.
 

Be sympathetic and supportive towards the child who is being bullied and deal effectively with...

Be sympathetic and supportive towards the child who is being bullied and deal effectively with...

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
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I think it’s very, very important that teachers try to, you know, I suppose, the very first thing is to acknowledge the fact that a young person is being bullied. Whether they see that or whether that young person goes to them. I think its very important that they actually listen to what they’re saying and also it would be quite empathetic or sympathetic towards what they’re going through so they can help them to kind of come to some kind of possible resolutions for that particular problem. I mean obviously its very hard to kind of fix bullying, but I think there are ways that that could be reduced and there are ways that the young person could help deal with that bullying. You know, and I think, you know, looking back on my own personal experience I kind of think that you know, it was very, very obvious I think that I was being bullied and I think you know, it does anger me to some extent that I am not aware of any teachers that didn’t think to kind of deal with it really. So, so I think, you know, there are very simple things that teachers could do just to kind of ease the situation. 
 

Schools should make school dinners healthy but also appealing to young people.

Schools should make school dinners healthy but also appealing to young people.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
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I think it should be fresh. And I think at the same time while being healthy, it should be tasty as well, because that’s the thing that most young people complain about, that the healthy food that you are eating is not as tasty as the unhealthy food that they get from a chicken shop or somewhere. So I think the school should make the food healthy, but at the same time it should be appealing to young people.
 
What would appeal to young people?
 
I would tell them to like ask young people what they want, which may be like pasta. Or pasta could be healthy, depending on how you make it, but at the same time it could be very tasty like spaghetti Bolognese I think plenty of people, young people, young students like pasta so, I think that should be something that they incorporate more inside your school dinners. I think fruit and vegetables it would be a good idea for them as well. Like fruit salad instead of pie, chocolate or banana or something. I think they should mix it up and give them a healthy fruit salad.
Advice to parents of children/teenagers with a weight problem 

• Seek help if your child is overweight.
• Feed your kids healthy food.
• You’ve got to change your lifestyle if you want your child to change his/hers.
• Support your child. Don’t have a go at them because of their size.
• If you are worried about your child’s size, talk to a doctor.
• Let your child know that you love them.
• Be sensitive.

 

If your child thinks he/she has a weight problem, seek help and support. Talk to your GP.

If your child thinks he/she has a weight problem, seek help and support. Talk to your GP.

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Like if your child thinks they’ve got problems then like try and find somewhere for them to go or take them to a doctor so they can talk to him or like get him a counsellor to talk face to face with somebody.
 
Instead of because some kids are like shy to talk to their parents about it.
 
And like bullying at school they don’t like talking to parents or they don’t like talking to people at school or things like that. So like just try and get them somebody to talk to except the parents.
 
And things like that because if you, if your parent says, “Oh,  what’s going off at school?” And they go, “Oh, nothing.” But they come in with their head down.
 
And their shoulders like shrugged up, it like it does actually show that there’s something wrong.
 
Because that’s what me and my friend do. If there’s something gone off at school I come in and I’ll be like this.
 
Right so that’s something for them to look out for?
 
Yeah. 
 

Your child will feel more supported if you do things as a family.

Your child will feel more supported if you do things as a family.

Age at interview: 13
Sex: Female
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Just because your kids are overweight doesn't mean you can't be like, if some people are embarrassed of them because they're still your kids. And even though you love them,  they do have their faults like me and them faults make them what they are, so live with it [laughs].
 
If you think about it some people are like, “Oh I know my kid's overweight, but who cares I still love them”.
 
And people picking up on their kid’s being overweight and sometimes it makes them feel a bit, “Hmm what I have done wrong?” and sometimes it makes them feel like, “Why, why me?”. And that's exactly what the kids feel like as well. But obviously it's like people in the family are worried about them. And them worries can lead to different stuff. And, but if you believe your kids can do it, then believe in them, and make sure that they know you believe in them.
 
Family, what can they do then that would help do you think?
 
Well, they could get all the family members into what you're doing, to try encourage you. Get them to do like exercises, try different foods and just make them feel like they’re part of what you're doing, instead of making them feel like they've got to be excluded from family activities. 
 

Without your support your child won’t be able to change. Praise them to boost their confidence.

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Without your support your child won’t be able to change. Praise them to boost their confidence.

Age at interview: 14
Sex: Female
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I’d just say to like parents that like all your child needs is support. And without you, you won’t be, your child won’t be able to do it. And you’ve got to help them as much as they’re helping themself. And just, if you don’t help them, they’ll think, “Well, nobody’s bothered,” and, “I do try but nobody sees difference.” And so if you just like say to your child, “Oh well done. You’re looking great and that, you look lovely in that outfit,” and things like that, it does boost their confidence a lot. And they’ll,  they’ll like think a lot more of you for saying that than just like ignoring them and just thinking, “Oh, they’re doing all right.”
 

Don’t remind your child about his/her weight all the time, support them and become a healthy...

Don’t remind your child about his/her weight all the time, support them and become a healthy...

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I guess to parents it would kind of be they just need support. They don’t need to reminded of it like all the time. You know it shouldn’t be seen as this ridiculously negative thing. And you know you shouldn’t start having a go at them just because they are the size that they are. You know because you should just learn to support them in whatever they’re wanting to do. And if they’re not really… well if you… if your child isn’t willing to like lose weight, yeah you’re going to have to start getting a bit a more serious. You need to start going, “Look I’m worried about you. I think you know I think it would be nice if we all started to lose weight and started to healthy as a family.” You know. I think it’s nice to do things like that as a family because that way, you’re not only helping your child, but you’re also helping yourselves.  

Last reviewed July 2017.

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