Young people

Why a page for teenagers and children ?

There are so many challenges facing young people and peer pressure to be slim. Emotional issues can also lead to comfort eating.Being overweight can sometimes mean you get bullied and create low self esteem. Food issues are very common leading to both overweight and very underweight teens. Learn how to get a balance and not develop an unhealthy relationship with food. It IS possible to live life at a healthy weight whatever your weight so dont despair YOU CAN change your life . Learn that a good understanding of food and exercise can become a natural part of everyday life and the importance of losing weight in a health way to keep the weight off.

We are looking for young people to share their experiences of what it is like living with a weight problem and to help us in creating a site to help you. If you are interested in doing this please mail us at

Eating sensibly and getting more exercise is a start . Don’t try extreme diets, if you are not sure what you should be eating to start to lose weight your doctor will be happy to help you. It is particularly important that whatever your weight you eat a balanced and healthy diet, your body must have certain types of food and vitamins to grow strong and healthy and you want to make sure that you are still getting these. This is why it is always best to get the right information. Britain now has more and more people who are overweight and doctors are regularly dealing with people of all ages who need help. They will give you a guide to the correct weight for your age and height and if you have a problem they will support you.

Eating Disorders - what are they and why are they dangerous ? click here

Sarah Newton is one of the world’s leading teen coaches. She enjoys a high profile and is one of the only Teen Coaches to have hosted her own eight part TV series ‘My Teen’s a nightmare – I’m Moving Out’. Her first book " Help! My Teenager is an Alien - the everyday situation guide for parents" was launched in March 2007 by Penguin and rarely drops out of the top ten parenting teenager books. Sarah believes that parents can have great relationships with their teenagers and still get all the boring things done and to this end she offers everyday practical advice

Listening to your teen so they will talk.

Teenagers describe to me time and time again the following situation. They have an issue they are dealing with and they eventually decide to talk with their parents about it. So they pick their moment and start talking, but no sooner have they started then the parent has broken into a dialogue of advice about what they did as a teenager, how they would handle the situation and what the teen should do. The teen listens, then walks away feeling dejected and misunderstood. The issue remains unresolved.

So what is the way forward? Understanding their structure of interpretation, feeling how it must be to be a teenager in today's society and all the challenges that must bring. Point-of-View Listening as we call it. This is a challenging skill and will take you a while to get the hang of.

Point of View is a three-step process.

Listen with your lips shut - do not comment.
Ensure you are listening heart to heart.
Step into their point of view.
Let me give you an example of levels of Point of View and how this may pan out.

Imagine this situation. Your teenage daughter comes home having been the victim of a robbery. How do you respond?

1. Listen from your point of view.

"Well they didn't have mobile phones in my day, if you will have a phone what do you expect? You should report it, they cannot get away with this! I am never buying you anything again - you should have been more careful - I told you so!"

Well, I think we have all experienced this type of listening at one time or another.

2. Listening to their point of view.

"Are you OK? Are you hurt? Did you go to the police? Where did it happen?"

Here you are listening and just attempting to gain more information.

3. Listening from their point if view.

"That must have been really shocking for you and very scary. It must be challenging being a teenager today with all this added responsibility. How can I support you?"

Here you set into the teenager's body, looking at life through their eyes, responding accordingly.

When you use this type of listening, your tone must be neutral and you must ensure that you sound sincere.

I would like to leave you with these five steps to Point of View listening. Remember this is life-long learning!

Step and breath
Connect with your teenager heart to heart
Physically imagine yourself standing behind your teenager
Now look at life through their eyes.
Remember to have great fun with this and let me know how this powerful tool works for you.

To get Free access to Sarah’s "3 easy proven techniques to instantly reduce stress in your home and dramatically improve the relationship with your teen" go to

Why are we getting bigger as a nation ? They think a lot of it is that we need to get more active. We have ideas on our fitness page but your first step may be to limit your time sitting on your PC. If you really can’t bear to get away from your computer start by setting yourself a time limit and then switch it off and get active. Gradually reduce the time on your PC and increase the time you are exercising. This can be anything from taking the dog for a walk or riding your bike. You should notice the difference quite quickly and not only that you will find you start to get fitter and are able to enjoy sport more. Have you ever noticed how much sports people eat and yet how fit they are - food is energy and if you exercise you are burning that fuel. It may be hard at first but stay with it.

You really are not alone with being overweight, Britain has a real problem with obesity and this is something that more and more young people are having to deal with. The government are worried about it because it can effect your health both as a child and later in life. Perhaps you have or know someone with diabetes, whilst people of all shapes and sizes can have this - being overweight increases your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. Look out for the symptoms on our health report pages and if you are at all worried get some help, they can do a quick test and the earlier it is found the better.The Government are also trying to encourage schools to help deal with the weight problem by offering healthier food and increasing sport in school.

Depression - If your weight makes you unhappy talk to someone and get help

Sometimes the fact that you are overweight is actually because you are unhappy about other areas of your life.Not everyone is able to talk about their feelings with their family & friends and if this is the case there are “helplines” out there for you. People who will listen to you and try and offer the best help. Just click on our helpline page and choose the one you feel best suits you, they cover everything from dealing with bullying to eating disorders. Getting the right help can be the first step to changing your life.


Bullies pick on everyone - they may tell you it is because of your weight but they are equally willing to bully people because of your race, you wear glasses, the colour of your hair, you are too thin, the list is endless. Not only that but it can take many forms - it might be they hit you, intimidate you or send you threatening text messages.

GET HELP - you may feel isolated but tell someone, it is the only way to make it stop and being bullied is never YOUR fault. Here are a few places that will give you more help.

Letters & personal experiences

Your emails :

( we recommend everyone to seek the advice of their doctor before embarking on any change of diet or exercise program)

hi im 14,and im upsets me because i've been overweight since i was 5,i cry alot because people make in fun of me...i want to became less fat but i have no idea on how to start...first off how can you figure out your metabolism,and how can you find out what right foods to each..i weigh 195lbs. do u think u could help!

First of all please just relax since stress could increase your weight!!! It is also very important to exercise and it helps you to de-stress as well.
The most important thing to lose weight is to eat regularly (every 3 hours), this will stabilize your blood sugar level and will prevent accumulation of fat. Eat a good breakfast with plenty of protein e.g. 2 scramble eggs (no fat or cream, no salt) on one piece of toast (brown bread) + 125ml fat free yogurt with a fresh chopped piece of fruit in it. Then you will need to eat after 3 hours a little snack e.g. 80g of chicken + a fresh fruit; then will come lunch where you should eat plenty of protein and not refined carbohydrates e.g. fish + vegetables or a salad; then you will have another snack and then supper where you can eat again protein and carbohydrates e.g. 50g pasta + vegetables + fish or meat. It is important to treat yourself, but don’t do it every day, keep only 1 day where you will give yourself only 1 treat like on Sunday. Do not weight yourself for a while and just take it easy and be happy!
Why don’t you also try soy products? Tofu is a great source of protein and if you mix it with pulses and rice it will give you a balanced meal idea. Other very good soy products are: yogurt and milk, very versatile and easy to buy. Bean salads are very good as well and don’t forget eggs, a very healthy food. Reduce or avoid dairies of any kind since they are all full of saturated fats, switch to soy products or low-fat dairies. You can eat up to 2 eggs a day without having to think about your cholesterol level, but do reduce or even avoid dairies since very fatty. The last thing, try to eat more fruits and vegetables and less pasta, bread, cakes and biscuits, if you do have pasta and bread have them brown.
“Diet” drinks and soft drinks in general are very acidic and acidify the blood. They also contain lots of sugar. Beware if your blood is acidic the body tends to gain weight! Careful since some fruit drinks can even contain saturated fats!
Clearly water is the best form of “drink” the body could have and 1.5L a day is the minimum for good health. Tap water is not very healthy though, filtered or spring water is the best. I do realize though that water does not have any taste so here are some tips: adding half squeezed lemon to your water or mixing 1/3 pure fruit juice with no added sugar and 2/3 of plain water should make your drinks a bit more exciting. Teas and coffees are not a good way to increase water consumption since are diuretics, that is to say that they take water away from the body.

Wheat products are a concentrated form of carbohydrates, which in the body are partially transformed into fat, therefore swapping them with brown rice, soy pasta, oat cakes, Ryvitas or rice cakes would be a good start to increase weight loss. Do not over-eat them! All concentrated forms of carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread and grains in general are to be eaten in moderation to loose weight and maintain a healthy diet. Please note that soy is not a grain, it is a bean! Fruits and vegetables are a carbohydrates source too, but since they are not in a concentrated form are better then grain products. Dairy products are very high in fats and in particular in saturated fats. A good way of decreasing your fat intake and maintaining a good amount of protein in the diet is to consume only fat-free options. For example fat-free plain yogurt (with live bacteria), Weight-Watchers cheese or any fat-free cheddar alternative and skimmed milk. Another good dietary change could be introducing soy products such as milk and plain yogurt, high in protein and low in fats. Eggs are healthy and up to 2 a day is perfectly fine to eat. Do not believe in the scary articles you read about eggs being high in cholesterol, this is not yet been proven and I personally do not believe it is so.

Cutting wheat from the diet is usually good, but it is difficult sometimes to find alternatives. Here are a few ideas:

• Wheat free, sugar free muesli or breakfast cereals with skimmed milk or fat-free yogurt or soy milk and a piece of fresh fruit

• A wheat free, sugar free breakfast bar with a glass of skimmed milk or soy milk and a piece of fresh fruit

• Porridge made with water or skimmed milk or soy milk, a few dried fruits such as raisings or apricots or prunes and a piece of fresh fruit

• Scrambled eggs on oat cakes or on Ryvitas or on rice cakes with some mushrooms or baked beans

• A slice of German bread with scrambled eggs and some mushrooms

• Oat cakes with cottage cheese and a piece of fresh fruit

Good luck and keep in touch

Jessica, Nutritional Consultant

Nutrition will be the key for you. You will need an individualised diet and supplement protocol.

You can however also do wonders for your metabolism with the right kind of exercise. Without further information it is difficult to advise but the following should put you on the right path.

You will hear trainers trot out the standard advice of starting off walking, then hours of endless cardiovascular exercise to lose weight. Whilst of course this will help to some degree, the body adapts to steady aerobic-style exercise (treadmills, steppers, cross-trainers, rowers etc) within 6-8 weeks, so you progressively burn less calories each time you do it - basically the body becomes more efficient at it - and you get disheartened! The hormonal effect of this type of training can also cause problems with the immune system and menstrual cycles which are beyond the scope of this column.

You need a well-designed exercise programme which focuses on resistance exercises (squats, presses, rows etc). You should do 15-20 repetitions of each exercise and rest for 75 seconds between each exercise, gradually reducing the rest down to around 30 seconds. This will burn alot of fat without sacrificing precious muscle (which keeps your metabolism high), plus the right programme for you will be less stressful to your joints than pounding the streets or the treadmill. And, before you say it, no, you will not get big, bulky muscles! This type of programme should be fine for someone of your age, provided you are assessed by a qualified trainer first.

Whilst this may sound a little daunting, it is very achievable, in your own home, once you have a well-written programme and have been shown what to do.
I have seen many women lose a LOT of weight who could never do so before once they began to exercise in this way. They also report improved energy levels, mood and general wellbeing. Unless the next words out of their mouth are a request for something free, I usually believe them! I would be happy to put you in touch with a reputable trainer in your area.

Good Luck

Phil Roberts, Personal Trainer

Personal experiences:

If you want to share your experiences please get in touch. Our thanks to Katie.

Hey my names Katie, 19 yrs of age, live in london, im a nursery nurse, happy, bubbly, enjoys everything the usual 19 yr old does, clubbing, pubbing, chilling with friends, always smiling and happy....... OK now for the real introduction... Katie, 19, live in london, nursery nurse, overweight, scared, embarrassed, nervous, unhappy!! The second introduction describes how i am feeling today and how i have been feeling since i was about 13! I am not a normal teenager in london... i am a fat teenager which makes me 1) an outcast and 2) someone for people to taunt and embarass so they can have a laugh!! I knew i was different since i started secondary schoool in 1997, i had bigger legs than the other girls, i had to wear trousers instead of skirts because they "didnt look right on me", my mum always made a point of saying that so she didnt hurt my feelings, but when your mum is a diet obbsessed person herself... you know what she is really trying to say! I realised just how different i was on my second day of school.... i got beaten to a pulpe....for being FAT!!!!!!!!! Ever since that day, i have been the person i introduced to you!! I remember walking into assembly and people looked at me funny, i didnt realise at the time it was because i was considered fat!! Ok moving on to experiences.... I got my first boyfriend when i was 13, halloween disco at school and it was like all my christmas's had come at once... i met James, he was gorgeous, funny, and he was everybodys best mate.... didnt realise he went out with me for 6 months because he was my brothers mate! When he called me to dump me, he said he did really like me but his friends kept taking the mick because i was different! Different???? i asked him.... "well your not the smallest person ever are you?".... i cried non stop for a week! He dumped me because i was fat, his friends (who i also considered friends) had been talking behind my back, and my brother was in on it too, he always used to call me fat, but i thought he was just being the usual nasty older brother, didnt realise he actually had some input to making my life a living hell!! It was downhill from there.... i put on more weight which of course made me bigger in appearance and made me a bigger subject to talk about!! I used to walk through the school playground and here FAT FAT FAT FAT, id get the odd punch in the face and get pushed over once in a while, this became a normal school day.... walk in.... get called fat... get called fat again.... BANG, get smacked in the face!!! This went on for about a year, i stopped eating and made myself ill.. when that was over, i started making myself sick after everything i ate, this lost me dignity and friends!!! My grandad then passed away, which was of course a depressing time, so what did i do? went to the shop and brought anything i thought would make things seem a little sweeter for a while!! Things didnt change at school, but the pain from my dear grandad dying eased, so things seemed to be on the up already!!! BUT THEN... just before i turned 15 i had some bad news... my brother had been having an affair with my mums best friend. At that point in my life things were bad enough without basically half my family being ripped from me! My brother moved out and hasnt spoken to us since... i see him all the time and he puts his head down! When everything first happened with him, people used to come up to me and say "oh your so and so's sister", and punch me in the face, or abuse me in the street because my brother was a B*****D and i was related to him, of course, the word FAT was always used! This made things ten times worse... so what happens??? ON GOES THE WEIGHT!!!!!
Fast Forward to today!!!
I am currently working in a nursery, and well on my way to getting a qualfication! I am still overweight and embarrassed about it, when i go out, i walk with my head down and when it comes to blokes, i have absolutely ZERO self confidence! I am currently a size 24, i cant go shopping without having to go to certain shops and having to go to and try everything on first. Then when i do find something i really like and im pleased with it, someone always has to say something to make u feel like rubbish again!! Also, i have just been diagnosed with havin polycystic ovaries... symptoms? Weight gain and excess facial hair... something else to add to my embarrassment!! I have to control it to stop myself growin sideburns!!!!! So feeling like a freak isn't the best feel good feeling!!
Ok thats a little bit about me!! The point of me telling you all this u ask yourselves.... I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!!! I understand what its like to be big in a "you have to be small to be attractive or even worth knowing" society!
The only thing i can say my weight has done for me is bring misery, but it has made me appreicate my friends like you wouldnt believe!! Basically... they are the people that will be there and be with you no matter what you look like, i am going to end it there, but to everyone that reads this..... YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND REMEMBER FOR EVERY PERSON OUT THERE THAT ABUSES YOU, TAUNTS YOU OR JUST STRAIGHT UP DOESNT LIKE YOU BECAUSE OF THE WAY YOU LOOK.... THERE IS ANOTHER PERSON THAT IS FEELING THE EXACT SAME AS YOU!!!!

We look forward to hearing from more of you, we know that there are thousands of young people who feel isolated and alone with the problems of being overweight.



There is an increasing demand for holiday camps to help young people lose weight. As we hear from new ones we will add them but click here to check out size friendly camps.


We want to hear from you about the shops that you have found that sell the size you are but with a style that is fashionable for your age. School uniform can present a real problem. We particularly want to hear from boys as we know that clothes can be just as important for you and want to know where you like to shop. They can be web based or retail outlets, we want to find the best. hav e alook at our clothes page where you will find suggestions ..e-Mail

Your comments on clothes - please keep your emails coming in.

"Fashionable clothing for young overweight people is not easy to find at all; jeans being the worst. I am an 18 year old girl and my size matches my age. I struggle to find comfortable clothing that looks good on and is in style but i find that george at asda can be quite good. This line makes clothes similar to what is in style by the top designers yet at the sizes where i can look at the trousers and not think oh what great arm warmers. Evans can also be good for larger fashionable clothes although it is directed at older women they still sell fashionable in style clothing which can be good for younger people."


As a teenager one of the most common things you will hear is everyone giving different information on what you should or shouldn't be eating. It is hard - there will be children who do nothing but eat crisps and burgers all day and are skinny, there are people telling you to that you should be eating this or cutting out that. Like so much of what young people are faced with it can be hard to work out the right from the wrong. If you have a specific question about food and don't know where to find the answer then visit our Diet page and email Jessica your question - she will do her best to help.

We are going to check out those foods that you like so you really get to know exactly how many calories and/or fat you are eating when you are snacking. So often it is what you eat in between meals that can make you put on weight. A snack on a chicken fillet/large beef burger with large fries and a milkshake will be around 1000 calories that's before dessert ! Very easy to end up having one when out shopping and then eat a meal when you get home . If your family are out when you get home and you have to make a meal for yourself, don't be tempted to keep snacking to fill you up instead. If you can't cook much, better to have something like beans on toast than endless biscuits &crisps. You don't need to starve yourself , you most likely just need to look at food in a different way . Fill up on the healthy foods - vegetables, fruit etc and then you can afford to have the occassional treat.

Try and get used to reading food labels, if you start now understanding exactly what labelling means even if it is just on a sweet or crisp packet, then it will help you to understand what you are actually eating and may make you want to eat healthier. For example “low fat” and “lower fat” are not the same thing. Lower fat can be misleading as a crisp company, for example, can produce a regular packet of crisps and a "lower fat" one - it will be less fat but you might be surprised when you see how much fat, salt etc there still is in it. To compare the fat content of food always see how much fat there is per 100g to help you, but even that can confuse as there are different types of fat - saturated, unsaturated etc. Some good, some bad. Packaging can be very confusing, the naming of ingredients can sometimes mean we are not exactly sure what they are. For example if you are a vegetarian maybe you are not aware that products like beef gelatine can go into sweets (and many other products). The government have a site which talks about all issues of food labeling they can be found on

To give you some idea of how lableling can really confuse the food commsission stud give you an idea using strawberry flavour products as an example, The Food Commission revealed that many products contain no strawberries at all, or use just tiny amounts of the fruit. For instance:

Jordans Frusli All Fruit Strawberry Bars contain only 0.5% strawberry juice concentrate. The bars are actually made from apples.

Hartley's Strawberry Jelly with a 'New Fruitier Taste' contains no strawberries at all.

Nesquik Strawberry Milkshake Mix is almost 100% pure sugar, but contains no strawberries. Nesquik suggest that children add up to four teaspoons of this sugary mix to every glass of milk they drink.

ASDA Great Stuff Strawberry Milkshake has been 'endorsed by ASDA nutritionists' - but the cartons contain no strawberry at all. Flavourings provide the taste and the colour comes from beetroot.

Yoplait Yop Strawberry Yogurt contains no strawberries and uses an artificial colouring, E124 (ponceau 4R).

Fruit Bowl School Bars (apple, strawberry and pear) look very fruity, but contain more vegetable oil than strawberry juice (1.5%)

We looked at just a few packets of sweets to give you an idea of the calories you are munching on during break and on the way to/from school. The weight of the pack sizes vary considerably but as these are the packs you will be buying we will give you the calories per pack rather than per 100g.

We have selected a few at random, these were some of the products that were made by companies who had taken the effort to include nutritional advice, many had no nutritional information on them, so at least these companies give you the chance to be informed. Above you will find some a breakdown of Easter Eggs and their calories.

Dairy Milk King Size
Maynards Wine Gums
Tesco Strtawberry & Cream Lances
Tesco Wine Gums
040g pack
085g pack
048g (4 stick)
037g pack
052g pack
115g pack
057g pack
100g pack
250g pack
043g (2 stick)
058g (2 stick)

It can be very easy not to think of all the snacks we eat in a day. Why not try writing down EVERYTHING you eat and drink over a couple of days, you don't have to show it to anyone, but you may be surprised how much you eat between meals- burgers, crisps, chips, sweets, biscuits etc. Regular healthy food is vital but unhealthy snacks between meals can soon add up.


What do you want people to do - be they TV, Government, Schools etc to help ? Does your weight mean you are being bullied? If so get help NOW. Maybe you are not overweight but worry about a member of your family, obesity is something that effects more people each year, perhaps you get confused over what you should and shouldn’t be eating, you might have heard, but not understand, about “eating disorders” – anorexia, bulimia and the effect they have on life –there is help out there so make sure you get it.

© 2012 Big Matters Limited all rights reserved



_All content within Big Matters website is provided for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Big Matters Ltd is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any individual, including all independant consultants on this site, any commercial product or service mentioned or advised any of the sites including nutritional information supplied herein. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions regarding a medical condition, your diet or before embarking on any exercise program or if you're in any way concerned about your health. Under no circumstances shall Big Matters be liable for any loss, damage or harm caused by a User's reliance on information obtained through this site. It is the responsibility of a User to evaluate the information, opinion, advice or other Content available on Big Matters website.Jessica Villa, Leigh Brandon & Richard Krijgsman are all independant consultants.