Dubai: Obese children struggle with a range of negative psychological problems on top of the health concerns that come with being overweight.
According to Dr Liza Thomas, Specialist Internal Medicine at Canadian Specialist Hospital (CSH), obese and overweight children suffer from a range of negative emotions.
Apart from being teased and bullied, they also feel vulnerable and isolated.
She told Gulf News, “Overweight or obese children often suffer from poor image and low self-esteem, resulting in a host of emotions including depression.”
Dr Raymond H. Hamden, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist and Director of the Human Relations Institute, Dubai also spoke of the challenging mental issues facing obese and overweight children.
He said when these children are teased, they feel unprotected and vulnerable physically and psychologically.
He advises parents to take a proactive approach with children who have weight issues.
He said: “They should assist their child or children with both medical supervision and psychological intervention.
“Everyone can participate in the remedial process to empower the child towards independence, responsibility, and respectability in self. Parent and sibling involvement will further give the sense of bonding which enhances psychological strength.”
Gulf News spoke to one child who was teased at school over her weight — she bravely explained how she handled it.
Hannah Ferguson, 12, a Year 8 student in a Dubai school, told Gulf News she used to be bullied for being overweight when she was younger.
“I wasn’t as skinny as my other friends,” she said.
But a school awareness anti-obesity programme gave her support, prompting her to lose weight.
She said: “I realised that eating junk food was bad and exercise was good. My mum too helped me get back to eating healthy.
“I now run with my mum in the gym and make sure I eat the right food.”