Posted on 06 June 2016
The most important lesson that the young people we interviewed have learned is that there is no ‘quick fix’ solution when it comes to losing weight. It can take many months or even years to achieve a target weight so patience is required. In this section, young people talk about their experiences of trying to lose or maintain weight and what has worked for them as an individual.
The young people‘s experiences suggested that weight loss and keeping a healthy weight required them to change their eating and lifestyle habits.
Lifestyle changes that had helped young people lose weight included:
• Spending less time in front of the TV or computer
• Being more active by walking to school, for example
• Taking regular exercise
Changes to eating habits that helped included:
• Eating breakfast everyday
• Eating more fruit and vegetables
• Having smaller food portions
• Eating more slowly
• Cutting down or avoiding food high in saturated fat and sugar
• Healthy snacking (like a piece of fruit)
• Friends continued to eat the food that they were trying to avoid
• Working for school exams
• They were the only one in their home/family trying to eat different and healthier food
But some young people were so scared of ending up ill because of their weight that they stuck with their new, healthier lifestyle and eating habits
For the young people who found it difficult to make these changes by themselves, the following helped:
• Joining a weight management programme
• Learning about nutrition
• Support from family and friends
Weight management programmes
A diet that promises massive weight loss in record time is short-term and usually leads to temporary results. A weight management programme aims to help people to lose weight and keep the weight off by permanently changing their eating habits and lifestyles.
We talked to young people who had just started a healthy eating programme and also to those who had finished it. Both groups reported a steady but gradual reduction of weight and size. Young people talked about setting up realistic targets on a long-term basis. Those who have been managing their weight for a long period were pleased with the results; one person had lost six and a half stone in two years and another about four stone in one year.
• The ability and confidence to read and analyse the nutritional information on food packets
• An understanding of the importance of a balanced diet; including food from the four food groups
• An understanding of calories in terms of the amount consumed and amount burned
This helped young people to both stick with healthy eating and to make progress toward achieving their target healthy weight.
The experience of losing weight made young people confident in their ability to manage their weight both in the present and in the future.