Health and weight

Jess - Interview 27

Age at interview: 19

Brief outline: Jess, 19, is studying nutrition at university. She lost 5 stone with Slimming World and also became one of their consultants, running her own group. Ethnic background: White British.

Background: See 'brief outline'.

Audio & video

Jess, 19, says she’s always been big and was bullied about it in primary school – she remembers she developed faster than the other kids so she stood out. Jess says her period started when she was 9, and she reckons her body has been the same since then. When she went to secondary she got a lot of attention from older boys. Until recently Jess says has disliked eating in front of other people because she’s worried they would think that she was eating the kind of food or portion sizes that were making her fat. When she was at secondary school she tried to eat the same things as her friends to try to fit in.
Jess remembers that before she left secondary school she and her friends were a similar, normal size, but that she gained weight after leaving. She puts this down to using a car instead of walking and also going out regularly and drinking alcohol. Jess joined Slimming World (where she became one of their consultants) and lost five stone, but has put the weight back on since she met her new boyfriend. She thinks slimming groups don’t tackle the underlying unhappiness that causes people to eat. She says when she was a consultant, she would ask the group to identify tips to share with each other about what they can do if they’re feeling down instead of eating (e.g. have a bath, get a massage).
Jess is studying nutrition at university and has learnt a lot about the nutritional value of different foods and says this has really influenced her to make a change to her diet. She believes that people should eat what they want – as well five fruit and vegetables per day – but avoid eating more than they need. Jess points out that it’s not just about weight, but about people’s insides. She says she’s passionate about educating parents to ensure that children have access to the right nutrition and avoid becoming obese. Jess believes it is parents’ responsibility to feed their children healthy food and says her own mum was responsible for the portion sizes she ate as a child. She puts her weight as a child down to portion sizes because she said she didn’t eat junk food.
Jess is unhappy about her weight and her body, especially since she gained extra weight over the Christmas period which has given her stretch marks. She’s sad that she can’t wear the clothes that she wants but is determined to lose weight so that she can feel comfortable wearing a bikini on her holiday. Jess says she doesn’t mind what size she is as long it her clothes fit nicely, but she would ideally like to be a size 10-12 like when she was 17. To lose weight, Jess says she’s trying not to eat too much, to base all meals around fruit and vegetables and to drink more water. Jess is a member of a gym, but is worried about going back because she hasn’t been for months.


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