Teenage obesity is a common and serious medical condition. It’s particularly troubling because the extra pounds if left unchecked, can cause serious problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.
One of the best strategies to reduce teenage obesity is to improve the eating and exercise habits of the entire family. Treating and preventing helps protect the teen’s health and future.
What is teenage obesity?
Excess, unhealthy body fat is known as obesity. A few extra pounds do not suggest obesity but may indicate a tendency to gain weight easily and a need for changes in diet and exercise.
Signs of teenage obesity
Not all teens carrying extra pounds are overweight. Some teens have larger than average body frames. Moreover, a teen normally carries different amounts of body fat at various stages of development.
The body mass index (BMI) which provides a guideline of weight in relation to height, is the accepted measure of overweight and obesity. The teen’s doctor can use growth charts, the BMI and if necessary, other tests to help figure out if the teen’s weight could pose health problems.
Causes of teenage obesity
Lifestyle issues, too little activity, and too many calories from food and drinks are some of the causes of obesity. Genetic, biological, behavioral, and cultural factors are also included.
Regularly eating high-calorie foods like fast foods, baked goods, and vending machine snacks can cause the teen to gain weight. Candy and desserts can also cause weight gain and more evidence points to sugary drinks like fruit juices and sports drinks. Also, poor eating habits and overeating can lead to obesity.
Lack of exercise
Teens not exercising much are likely to gain weight because they don’t burn any calories. Too much time spent in sedentary activities like watching tv, playing video games, and using mobile also leads to piling calories.
If a teen belongs to an overweight family then they are likely to put on weight. This is especially true in an environment where high-calorie foods are always available and physical activity isn’t encouraged.
Personal, parental and family stress can increase a teen’s risk of obesity. Some teens overeat to cope with problems or to deal with emotions like stress or fight boredom.
Some families have limited resources and limited access to supplements. As a result, one might buy convenience foods that don’t spoil quickly like frozen meals, crackers, and cookies. Also, people living in low-income neighborhoods might not have access to a safe place to exercise.
Medicines like prednisolone, lithium, amitriptyline, and propranolol can cause an increase in weight.
Endocrine and neurological problems can also lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Problems caused by obesity
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Joint pain
- Breathing problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Treatment for teen obesity
Start a weight-management program like a change in eating habits (eat slowly, develop a routine) and plan meals.
- Eating healthy and prioritizing fruits and vegetables. Cut down to food items low in sugar, fat, and calories.
- Limit sweetened beverages like tetras of fruit juices and sodas. These drinks provide little nutritional value in exchange for high calories.
- Avoid fast food as they are high in fat and calories.
- Sit down together for family meals and avoid watching tv while having food.
- Serve appropriate portion sizes food to teens and not as much serving for adults.
- Limit tv, video games, and mobile time. Instead, increase physical activity to moderate activity for at least an hour a day.
- Medications and weight loss surgery are also options.
Remedies for obesity
- Make healthy eating and regular physical activity a must for every member of the family, not just teens.
- Have healthy snacks available like air-popped popcorn without butter, fruits with low-fat yogurt, baby carrots with hummus, or whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk.
- Have proper sleep.
- Discourage dieting and skipping meals.
When to see a doctor?
If you are worried that the teen is putting on too much weight, talk to the doctor. The doctor will consider the teen’s history of growth and development, the family’s weight-for-height history, and where the teen lands on the growth charts. This can help determine if the teen’s weight is in an unhealthy range.
Obesity although common nowadays, is a serious and long-term disease. When treated and prevented on time it can be better. Contact the doctor for proper treatment.
- childhood obesity: causes and consequences (nih.gov)
- childhood obesity causes & consequences | overweight & obesity | cdc