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Emily - Interview 13

Brief Outline: Emily, 14, found out that her BMI was in the 'obese' category when a Health Bus visited her school and weighed her. Since then, she has been attending a weight management group and has lost over 2 stone. Ethnic background: White British.
Background: See 'brief outline'.

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Emily, 14, found out that her BMI was in the “obese” category when a Health Bus visited her school and weighed her. Since then, she has been attending a weight management group and has lost over 2 stone. Having lost weight, she now feels better and has much more confidence. She now receives ongoing help in the ‘maintenance’ group. Emily said she knew that she had a weight problem and had tried to lose weight but found it didn’t work, partly because she didn’t have the willpower. For example, she tried the Atkins diet, but found it difficult to stick to at school and also found it quite boring.
 
Emily thinks she gained weight because she would eat when she felt like it, and didn’t do enough exercise. She says she was shocked when she found out much she weighed. Although Emily and her mum had been to the doctors when she was 11 (and weighed 12 stone), she didn’t find it very helpful. The doctor asked her to fill out a food diary, but she never went back. Emily thinks the doctor didn’t tell her she was overweight because he was worried about upsetting her, but she thinks doctors should be honest with their patients so they don’t go away thinking they haven’t got a problem when they have.
 
Emily says her weight didn’t cause her too many problems, she has been bullied a couple of times because of her weight, and she could do PE (although she tried to get out of it when she could) but when she changed schools and had to climb lots of stairs to her lessons, she realised she had a problem because she got out of breath.
 
Emily doesn’t think it’s important to be thin, but that it is important to be healthy because you will live longer and be happier. She says she feels lucky that she hasn’t developed any problems with her health. She says that your personality, friends and family are more important than the way you look.
 
Since Emily changed her lifestyle, she says her friends and family have started altering their eating habits too, although she says her and her brother sometimes argue because he doesn’t want to change. Emily now goes to the gym and swimming every week, and says the programme has been really good because you get support from other young people in the same situation and she’s made lots of friends.
 

Emily thinks that the weight problem she had was mainly due to boredom-eating and lack of exercise.

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And so why do you think you had gained all of that weight? What do you think made that happen?
 
Well I think it was mainly the fact that I just used to eat whenever I was bored or whenever I felt like it, and I’d not, I never did exercise. The only time I’d do exercise is a couple of times in the summer when I was going on my bike or something like that, or play, it got, it got harder as I got older because I became less like playful and going outside to play and stuff like that. So that’s when it becomes hard for you, is when you don’t go outside and play with your friends, or you’re not energetic anymore.
 
And so the weight sort of gradually increased then?
 
Yeah.
 
Okay, and so how much did you weigh when you first came here (Shine Programme)?
 
Well when I first came I was 11 stone something, but because I’d lost a little bit of weight when we got the letter, so when I started losing weight I was actually 12 stone. Which is, was a bit of a shock for me ‘cos I never used to weight myself either. So, I think it, that was a bit of a shock for me.
 
And you’ve lost weight?
 
Yeah.
 
And how much did you lose?
 
30 pounds.Which I think if you convert it into stones, that’s about 2 pounds and, 2 stones 2 pounds I think.
 
Okay, yeah.
 
I think roughly. And so now I’ve gone from like 12 stone to like 9 stone 7 so, and it feels great as well. 
 

Emily knows what it's like to be criticised by others because of your appearance.

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So, but people just, when they say, “Oh I don’t like your ‘cos of the way you look,” and stuff like that, it can put, really put people down and it can really make them feel horrible about themselves and they can think that they’ve got to do, go out and buy certain things, and, do certain things that they don’t want to do.
 
Has that happened to you ever?
 
Probably a couple of times like, you know, people would say, “Oh I’m, you’re fat, I’m thin,” and stuff like that, and most of the time I’d just ignore them ‘cos I’d think, “Oh they’re…” if, if you get bullied, which has happened to me a couple of times but not as much as other people get bullied, but if people bully it’s because they’ve got problems of their own. So, yeah and people have tried to put pressure on me before, but if I don’t want to get something I don’t get it.
 
Now if I don’t look a certain way then I don’t need to be friends with someone who, who’s like that.
 
I was in the first year of secondary school and I was in I think it was in music and there was one of my friends who was stuck and I was trying to explain, and this girl just goes, “Oh shut up [name], you know, I’m smart, you’re thick, I’m thin, you’re fat.” And I just ran out of the classroom crying, and, you know, and I just think it’s horrible that people do that anyway. 
 
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Emily 'forgets' her gym kit deliberately to avoid PE lessons.

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Well you see I used to never like PE so what I’d do I’d pretend like I’d injured myself so I could sit out because I really didn’t like it, because I’d do summat and then there’d be people who were just fine and I’d be like there out of breath and, so I didn’t, I never used to like it, so I used to forget my kit, I used to sit out and stuff like that because I didn’t like it.
 
Right, did you ever used to get a note from your Mum or anything like that sort of?
 
No, I’d just like, I’d like do PE for like ten minutes, pretend I fell over and hurt my ankle or something like that and, then I’d just like sit out for the rest of the lesson, and not do ought, and, and I never used to like getting changed either. I used to have to get changed in the toilet. Because I never used to like getting changed in front of people either so, yeah it did cause me a bit of problems.
 
Why didn’t you want to change in front of other people?
 
Well because I knew the way I looked, so, I’d either get changed in the toilets or I’d get changed in like these shower cubicles we have, or I’d get changed and cover myself up as I’m getting changed. But it’s because I just didn’t like the way I looked. And I knew, and I thought well I didn’t know, I thought people would make fun of me. 
 

Emily thinks that a weight management programme has helped her to lose weight.

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So how much did you weigh when you first came here?
 
Well when I first came I was 11 stone something, but because I’d lost a little bit of weight when we got the letter, so when I started losing weight I was actually 12 stone. Which is, was a bit of a shock for me ‘cos I never used to weight myself either. So, I think it, that was a bit of a shock for me.
 
Right. And so that’s you’ve lost weight?
 
Yeah.
 
And how much did you lose?
 
30 pounds.
 
Which I think if you convert it into stones, that’s about 2 pounds and, 2 stones 2 pounds I think.
 
Okay, yeah.
 
I think roughly. And so now I’ve gone from like 12 stone to like 9 stone 7 so, and it feels great as well.
 
What do you think has been the most useful thing about coming here?
 
Well there’s the support that you get, there’s, you, you have so many people who are willing to support you. You have people who are in the same situation as you, who people, who’ve been in the same situation as you, you have people who know what it’s like and things like that.
 
If you have a problem or if you have like just a total collapse, you know, you’ve got people who will just pick you back up. And I think that’s been the most thing about it, the most important thing that I’ve had for me.
 

Emily was assessed by SHINE at school. They sent a letter to her parents telling them that she was overweight.

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I think a good place to start then is perhaps  if you tell me a little bit about how you came to be coming to SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise)?
 
Well I was in year 9 at school, so it was like last year, and the [SHINE Health] bus came to school, and like you did, so that you’d, you’ve had like an assessment, and then you’d get taught, you’d be talking to the people about it, and they’d have like models and stuff like that, and you could go upstairs and go on the Wii or the Gym or, and stuff like that. Um, and they came, they kept records of all the assessments and my BMI was 32.8 which was obese, so, you know, and they sent my Mum and Dad a letter so as soon as we got the letter, I just, I ate healthier, only at first ‘cos my Dad was, used to be obsessed with the Atkins diet, so at first I had like a week or two on the Atkins diet and then we, and then my Mum rang [name] up, and we went to go and see her, and then I decided to join, she gave me options whether to take a, like a leaflet thing home, or to join the group, and I chose to join the group, and it’s been really good ‘cos I’ve like made a load of a friends with it, and everything. So....

 

When was it you started coming?
 
I think it was it in September. So I’ve only just come into the maintenance group.
 
Right, what does that mean?
 
Well it’s like where you can have things, so like you can keep on track.
 
So you have an assessment once a month, and then it’s like, it’s almost like just making sure that you’re keeping on track and then if you have any problems, it’ll help, it’ll make, it’ll stop you from having a relapse. 
 

Emily is happy that her risk of developing diabetes has reduced since she lost weight.

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I feel really happy because, you know, I know that my risks of getting things like diabetes and heart problems has gone way down to what it would’ve been if I’d carried on. I think I was in something like category four, for diabetes when I started, and I’m now in something like category 2 or 3, something like that.
 
So it’s gone right down. So, so it’s less likely for me to get things like that now so that’s, I’m really happy about that.
 
And I’m quite happy with the way I look as well. 
 
 

Emily says that her diet when she was overweight was very bad and she is surprised not to have developed a serious illness as a result.

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Fat just causes you problems, it like blocks your arteries, and it, and it can cause diabetes, it can cause heart problems which can make you live not as long as you would as if you were healthy. So if you’re healthy it’s better. Because you live longer, you’re happier and you can do, you can like run around if you want to, and so I, and I’ve found it, I can now get to the top floor of my, of my school building with only being a little bit out of breath, which most people are anyway [laughs].
 
The health problems that you mentioned that could happen, is that something that you were worried about at all?
 
Well because that that was what was what was mentioned in the letter that I got as well, so I was worried and I mean I was quite surprised that I hadn’t had any of them already because I’d been, not been eating very healthily probably for all of my life.
 
So I was quite surprised at, I knew that you could get health problems because we’d been taught in science and in school and stuff.
 
But I was just quite shocked that I hadn’t had any, and I’m lucky as well ‘cos if you live the way that I’ve lived then [laughs].
 
So what kind of things did you use to eat before?
 
Oh I used to have things like chips, and like chicken nuggets, and I used to, we used to have like fish and chips every night, and stuff like that. I would eat things like pasta because I like pasta, rice and all that anyway, but I just wouldn’t have it with a meal if you know what I mean?
 
Like I could just eat rice on its own, because I wouldn’t like any other sauce or anything.
 
But I would mainly have things like chips and things that are like deep fat fried and [eugh], I can’t even make my brother chips anymore without making me feel ill.
 
Really, so you don’t have anything like that?
 
I don’t have anything like that; I’ve not had it for months. 
 

Emily says it's not being thin but being healthy that counts.

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And do you think it’s important to lose weight, to be thin?
 
It’s not to be thin because you could be like, you could gain weight but it would be muscle instead of fat, ‘cos fat just causes you problems, it like blocks your arteries, and it, and it can cause diabetes, it can cause heart problems which can make you live not as long as you would as if you were healthy. So if you’re healthy it’s better. Because you live longer, you’re happier and you can do, you can like run around if you want to, and so I, and I’ve found it, I can now get to the top floor of my, of my school building with only being a little bit out of breath, which most people are anyway [laughs].
 
Do you think it’s possible to be bigger or heavier and also to be fit?
 
Well, yeah you could, ‘cos you could be like really, you could have a different build, like you could have like a really muscley build and you could weigh more than like 12 stone or something like that, but you could still be healthy on the inside.
 
So yeah, but it is possible for you to be big, but if, if you don’t do exercise and you, you know, if you know that it’s, you’re overweight you kind of got to just take action really.
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