Health and weight (young people)
Health problems associated with being overweight
- Deformity of the lower legs (Blount’s disease)
- Sleep apnoea (a person temporarily stops breathing during sleep)
- High blood pressure
- Fatty liver
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) where cysts form in the ovaries
- Menstrual (period) problems
- Insulin resistance meaning that the body becomes resistant to insulin, the hormone that controls the amount of sugar in the blood.
- Type 2 diabetes
Huw is trying to lose weight to prevent poor health.
‘Cos I think mental, the mental health is well, way, way, way underplayed and like, over, it’s like it’s like underrated really because that’s the major thing that, that happens when you’re over weight, your mental health suffers incredibly. Your physical health, your, that that that’s bad, but your physical is not going to bother you unless you live long enough to let it bother you, which is where your mental health comes in, you need, you need to be happy, and no-ones in the position to lose weight unless they’re happy with themselves.
Rachael knows the potential health problems her weight could cause. Doctors can't prescribe the medication she needs because it may put her at risk of a stroke.
Many young people said that they felt tired, uncomfortable and out of breath. They said that the extra weight put pressure on their bodies, especially on the bones and joints of their legs. A few, like Loz, noticed that their asthma got worse after they put on weight.
Rihanna has problems with her legs and it affects the way she walks. She is on statins to lower...
Some young people mentioned that one or both of their parents were affected by diabetes type 2, high cholesterol or heart disease. Doctors were concerned that these young people could develop these conditions too, so were testing them regularly. Several had a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and one girl was being treated for high cholesterol while another had a suspected kidney disease. These young people know that it is crucial for them to get their weight down to a healthy level and keep it there.
Shannon joined a weight management programme after testing borderline for diabetes.
I do go to hospital now and then to do like I have blood tests and a diabetes, just to check that I’ve not got diabetes and kidney failure and stuff like that. And they just like talk to me about things I do at SHINE (Self Help, Independent, Nutrition and Exercise) and stuff like that.
Well, my auntie is diabetic and she takes tablets, but my nanna that died was diabetic and she had to have needles. And then one of my brother’s players that plays football is diabetic and he has to prick his finger. To like test his sugar levels or something and things like that.
And then my friend, she’s quite overweight, from my old school, and she has to like keep her sugar levels up. So she has to like have a biscuit while we were in lessons or something like that just to keep up the sugar levels quite high.
Rihanna goes to hospital every three months for blood tests to check her cholesterol levels. She doesn't mind taking medication but worries about her condition getting worse. (Animated clip).
Rihanna: Like a lot of dairy products, things with sugar in and like fatty foods, I can never, like once in a while but not like every day.
Rihanna: Once a night, right after my tea.
Becca's father is diabetic and she has seen the problems that it causes.
Naz and Anaan talk about the health problems affecting their immediate families and the importance of losing weight to improve their health.
Lisa is worried about her Dad having a heart attack due to excess weight and high blood pressure and Amy says that her uncle changed his diet after a health scare and feels better.
What about health? Do you think it affects your health?
Amy: Yes, it would affect your health. Like high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart, you could have heart disease.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Several young women told us that they had a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This is a condition that can affect some girls causing them to miss periods or not get their periods at all. PCOS is associated with insulin resistance where the body stops reacting to insulin; the hormone which controls the amount of sugar in our blood. Insulin resistance can cause weight gain make it difficult to lose weight. Developing insulin resistance could also be a sign of Type 2 diabetes.
Rachael says that the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are worse when you are overweight.
Holly developed an ovarian tumour and she says that if she had being a smaller size she would have noticed a 9 cm tumour on her stomach.
Being overweight may also affect your health in other ways. Rachael broke her leg when she landed awkwardly on top of it and still wonders whether if she had been thinner the pressure wouldn’t have been enough to break her leg.
Treatment for medical conditions
Being overweight can make it difficult to be diagnosed or treated for a health condition. If an operation is needed, being overweight might cause difficulties during or after the surgery. Gemma had problems waking up from her anaesthetic and she needed help with her breathing.
Doctors suspect that Naz has kidney disease but she needs to lose weight before a proper diagnosis can be made. She feels let down by the lack of support from the hospital.
Naz: Yes, but the thing is, because this has got me thinking though, because if they were really worried about me, the hospital, if it was really bad, they would have helped me to lose weight properly, not just send me to a dietician and then say two months, three months and stuff. No. No. If it was a really bad issue, you know, the kidney was getting really bad and stuff, they would have sent me…
Anaan: But they don’t know, because they can’t see it.
Holly overheard the nurses talking about the possible need for a bigger bed for her in theatre.
Before her gastric bypass surgery Gemma was thirty one and a half stone and became very scared of...
Rihanna and her little sister have a condition that affects their cholesterol. It runs in their father’s side of the family. (Animated clip).
Becca thinks that food obsession is an emotional disorder and should be treated like other eating disorders.
Rebecca says that anorexia caused her periods to become irregular.
Last updated February 2012.