Teen Weight Gain and Self-Esteem

As a concerned parent, you may have found this article after searching for what to do about your teen’s weight gain and how it’s affecting their self-esteem. Fear not, Camp Pocono Trails is the leading private weight loss program in the US focused on helping campers ages 7-21 loose weight in a fun and supportive environment. We provide a corrective experience for campers that is empowering. Our focus is on healthy living, self-esteem, and learning new habits to manage food, exercise, and technology overuse habits.

We see many issues that co-occur alongside teen obesity that have a detrimental effect on self-esteem such as bullying, discrimination, and comfort eating. Due to the effect obesity has on self-esteem, the self-esteem group is a major component of camp, along with an overwhelming focus on the positivity that permeates everything we do.

So what are the main issues we see with the overweight campers we serve?

Social Shame

Living with extra weight may be difficult for overweight kids. In some ways, the social stigma associated with being overweight may harm children just as much as the medical illnesses and problems that frequently go along with it. Studies have shown that youngsters as early as 6 years old may identify negative stereotypes with obesity and assume that an overweight child is just less likable in a culture that places a premium on thinness.


Your teen can feel as though they don’t fit in or belong anyplace due to weight gain. Many teens will frequently experience loneliness and are unlikely to think of themselves as popular. Your teen might also grow increasingly sad and retreat within when this scenario becomes embedded in their life—month after month, year after year. In psychology, this is often referred to as the “depressive loop.”

Bullying and Self-Esteem

It’s true that some overweight kids enjoy high levels of popularity among their peers, feel good about themselves, and possess a lot of self-confidence. However, compared to their slimmer friends, your youngster who is overweight is more likely to suffer from poor self-esteem. Low self-esteem may cause your child to feel self-conscious about their appearance, and their lack of confidence may affect their schoolwork.

You probably don’t need a lengthy explanation of how tough a child’s daily life may occasionally be if they are overweight. These children may hear from peers (and even adults) that being overweight is their own responsibility. They could receive insults. They could experience bullying and taunting. They could be shunned by their peers, and they might have a hard time finding new friends. When teams are chosen in physical education classes, they could be the final ones picked.

Eat Out of Emotion

In an odd twist, while their parents and physicians are advising them to eat less, some overweight youngsters may turn to food for emotional consolation, packing on even more calories to their plates. Some kids habitually overeat due to these and other emotional ups and downs in life, such as the strain of relocating to a new area, challenges in school, the loss of a parent, or a divorce.


There are other effects of obesity that last long beyond puberty and beyond. Teenagers and adults who are overweight may experience prejudice based only on their weight. According to some data, they have a lower chance of being admitted to a prominent university. Compared to their counterparts who are slimmer, they could also have a harder time getting desirable occupations. Women who are overweight have a lower chance of dating or finding a spouse. In summary, overweight folks have a tendency to make less money and get married less frequently than their peers who are average weight.

Using Food as a Means of Psychological Comfort

Anorexia, binge eating, bulimia, and compulsive overeating are just a few examples of eating disorders that can be used by abuse victims to gain “control” over their own lives and bodies.

It’s interesting to note that childhood trauma can have biological repercussions that fuel the development of fat. Trauma that takes place at crucial stages of brain development might alter the physiology of the brain, making it less receptive to rewards.

Children who are overweight frequently experience loneliness, guilt, a loss of control, and an overall negative self-image. They talk of being hopeless and occasionally turning to drastic measures to reduce weight. They abstain from eating or limit their consumption. Each time they fall short, their confidence plummets. They avoid going to their doctors because they know they would say the same thing: “You need to lose weight.” Even if they are aware of it and can feel it, the task still feels insurmountable.

Focus on Self-Esteem

By concentrating on self-esteem instead of weight, you can assist a youngster to change their weight without openly addressing it. All kids should strive to learn how to be healthy because it dispels stereotypes about body types and sizes and the idea that being overweight is a bad thing.

Use uplifting language while discussing your health, such as, “Vegetables are a good option for our bodies.” Don’t focus on negatives like, “Potato chips are harmful for us and unhealthy.”

A running club or joining a gym are two options that can help your youngster with self-esteem issues and negative body image while also promoting physical exercise. Regardless of weight, engaging in non-competitive physical exercise frequently boosts a child’s sense of value.

Give Praise

To draw attention to your child’s wise choices, use praise. Always be precise and behavioral in your compliments. Say something like, “Picking apples and vegetables was a wonderful healthy decision for your body and will give you loads of good energy!”

Begin modestly. Give your child encouragement when they achieve a tiny, everyday objective (like walking to school instead of using the bus or car, or including fruit or vegetable in their packed lunch). By progressively adding to the objective, you can encourage them to believe they can do it.

After a stressful day, if you see that your child is reaching for more snacks or bigger amounts, talk to them about it and pay attention to what they have to say. Give them a chance to express their emotions, and assist them in learning other, non-eating coping mechanisms.

Set a good example by using age-appropriate coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, and sadness. Eat a variety of healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

Final Thoughts

You are not in this alone. The experts at Camp Pocono Trails are available to help set your child on a healthy path. Giving your child the gift of a session at Camp Pocono Trails lets them see, perhaps for the first time ever, that they are truly in control of their weight. Our campers leave knowing that they have the strength within them to determine how they look and how they feel. A summer session at Camp Pocono Trails is often life-changing as campers leave knowing they are truly in control of their lives. With our focus on healthy eating, exercise, habit formation, and self-esteem, campers leave in the best physical and mental shape of their lives.