Adolescent boys with obesity: The lived experiences

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 26, issue 3, 2016 , pages: 276–280
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2016.1185915
Author(s): Jenilee AxselDepartment of Educational Psychology,, Chris MyburghDepartment of Educational Psychology,, Marie PoggenpoelDepartment of Nursing Science, South Africa


This study explored and described the lived experiences of adolescent boys who are obese. Participants were a purposive sample of nine boys between the ages of 13 and 18, six of them currently with obesity and with BMI levels at or above the 95th percentile for weight for height, and three with a history of obesity. Data were collected using in-depth phenomenological interviews, direct observations and field notes. Thematic coding was applied during the analysis process. Four themes emerged from the thematic analysis to characterise the adolescent boys’ experiences of being obese: living an empty life in a full body; vulnerable self-concept and low self-esteem; and being teased and humoured. They reported to cope with lived obesity by actively using motivation such as fear of death to lose weight and passively coping by wearing a mask. Obesity carries significant physical and psychological health risk to children in adolescence.

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