More than a quarter of South Asian teenagers are desperately trying to put on weight to fit in with their heavier peers, according to new research.
The data, gathered as part of the Obesity Prevention in Communities Project, found 28% percent of mostly Indian males think they are too thin and are choosing to put on weight rather than muscle to bulk up.
The research showed only 1% were in fact clinically underweight.
Researcher Shirin Foroughian says the teenagers are eating junk food to gain weight as they compare their size with their heavier peers, who are often of Pacific descent.
She said some of the pressure comes from teasing at school.
Obesity Action Coalition spokesperson Leigh Sturgess described the findings as alarming and said unless they are addressed quickly, an already growing obesity epidemic in New Zealand will be heightened.
The Indian community's now calling for a campaign to educate their youth about being a healthy size