Obesity is a disease and there are over 157 million children and
teenagers living with it around the world. Despite this, a history of
misunderstanding across society has caused many teenagers to not
understand their own condition, the causes and how to get support,
which can feel isolating.
It is important for teenagers who live with obesity to understand
there may be more behind their weight than just their relationship
with food and exercise. Did you know that between 40-70% of all
obesity is related to genetics? This means that many teenagers living
with obesity have inherited a higher chance of developing this disease
during their lifetime.
How can genes affect someone’s weight? Genes can influence:
- How much food is consumed in a sitting
- How someone
responds to the sensation of fullness
- How much enjoyment is
received from certain types of food
- How much energy is
needed to run a body’s basic functions
- How and where excess
calories are stored as fat in a body
We now know that these things might have less to do with our
personalities and lifestyle choices and more to do with our genes.
If you would like to know more about how genetics contribute to your
weight, you can read our article ‘Is obesity genetic?’ here.
Additionally, if you would like to find out about how your hormones
affect your weight, you can read our articles ‘How hormones steer
our appetite and eating behaviour’ here,
or download a short guide to hormones and weight.
Sometime there are other challenges that teenagers may face because
of their condition. These can include difficulties with mental health,
troubles with joints and bones, plus shortness of breath.
It is the responsibility of a doctor to help teenagers to manage
their health and to recommend the best treatment options. These may
include a variety of methods, from lifestyle changes through to
medical treatment. Finding a solution to help manage obesity is not
simple and may take multiple visits to a doctor to work out the right
way to proceed.
Teenagers may feel nervous about speaking to a doctor. Some may
benefit from discussing their feelings or concerns with a parent or
caregiver first, who also may have experienced obesity themselves.
Some teenagers may find that their friends and family can provide
helpful support when taking the first steps towards managing their own
If you are ready to reach out to a doctor for support, you can find
your local obesity care provider here.
Below are some simple steps to help you talk to your doctor about
- Use the HCP locator (in the link above) or reach out to your
local doctor to book an appointment – you may want to ask your
parent or guardian to do this for you
- Your doctor may ask what your day-to-day routine looks like,
so a couple of weeks before your appointment make a note of your
day, including any activities you are involved in, and what you
- This will help you explain to your doctor about your
lifestyle and will also help your doctor recommend the best approach
- The conversation with your doctor should be
balanced and in no way imply any blame
- Make sure you feel comfortable discussing your weight with
your doctor. In some countries, you might have a short appointment
time so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get to talk about
- Try to identify the key priorities
or main points that you want to discuss and take a note of them with
you, so you don’t forget once in the clinic
- Persevere! If you leave the appointment feeling dissatisfied,
do not give up. There will be other doctors and obesity care
providers ready to help you. If you need additional support, there
are many patient organisations who can provide this, several have
been listed below
Obesity Action Coalition
For further information about obesity, please explore the rest of
this site, where you will find useful articles and resources.