Teenage Obesity Statistics – The Epidemic Destroying our Children

Teenage obesity statistics are on the rise. According to information collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, since about 1995, a dramatic increase in obesity in Americans has been seen, affecting those of all ages,

In 1980, approximately 5% of children from 6-19 years of age were overweight. That figure was 15% in the year 2000 (almost 9 million children). This number continues to grow at an alarming rate. The information also indicated that a further 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 were at risk of becoming overweight.

Obesity is defined as being around 20% heavier than their ideal body weight because of the accumulation of fat. Those whose weight is 1-19% above what is considered their ideal range, are defined as being overweight. Obesity is becoming increasingly common among teenagers.

Although teenagers have less weight related health issues compared to adults, overweight teens are much more likely to remain overweight as adults and will potentially develop weight related health issues at a much earlier age. Overweight teens, like overweight adults, are at risk from several serious health issues including:

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Diabetes
  3. High Blood Pressure
  4. Strokes
  5. Certain Cancers (rectal/bowel cancer)

Obese people tend to have a shorter life expectancy compared to those who have a healthy weight for their body size. Obese teenagers find that they are not only physically unfit, but their psychological health is also affected. Being overweight or obese as a teenager often leads to serious self esteem issues and depression, which in turn may cause them stress and in some cases, may develop into serious mental illness.

It is no surprise that a study whose details were released in May 2004 suggested that overweight children are more likely to be bullied than children who are a normal weight. Unfortunately, they may not only be the victims of bullying, they may become bullies themselves. The reason for this is that some children respond to bullying by becoming aggressive themselves. When they realize that this gives them power over others they may choose to exercise that power over others who are weaker than themselves. In a sense it is a cry for help because they feel so unable to control whatever is causing them to be bullied in the first place (in this case, their weight).

The development of personality and body image is crucially important goal for every teenager.

There are many causes of obesity which center around the concept of balance, the balance between the calories they obtain from food and the energy they expend (how effective their metabolism is, and how much exercise they receive). Often when teens are overweight, it is because there are problems with the nutritional value of their diet or the amount of exercise they receive. Alternatively, it may be familial, physiological or psychological.

Dietary issues

Gone are the days when fathers worked and mothers stayed home with the children. These days, most families require two full time incomes to make ends meet. Because of this, we rely heavily on fast foods and processed foods. Unfortunately, these meals tend to be much higher in fat, sugar and calories than non-processed varieties. Combine this with all the snack foods available and we face the prospect of excessive calorie consumption which leads to teenage weight gain.

Exercise issues

On average, children in developed nations spend several hours per day watching television or on a computer. Compare this to a generation ago, when this time would most likely have been spent running around outside. Because of this lack of exercise, many teens and children are now overweight. They expend insufficient energy, and frequently eat high calorie snacks while watching TV or playing on the computer. According to US statistics, about 33% of elementary school children receive some form of physical education, and less than 20% take part in exercise programs after school.

Family issues

Children and teens of overweight parents are more at risk of becoming overweight themselves. In some cases, this can be caused by powerful genetic factors, but most times it is because they are modeling their eating and exercise habits on their parents eating and exercise habits. Even though it may seem that your teenagers pay no attention to anything you say or do, you are in fact an extremely powerful role model for them, potentially even more powerful than their peers. If you have bad eating and exercise habits then it is likely they will also.

Physiological issues

Recently, information has indicated that genetics can influence weight in children and teenagers. Scientists discovered that some children born to overweight mothers were less active, and often gained more weight by the age of 3 months compared to children born to mothers within a healthy BMI range. The conclusion was that this suggests a possible instinctive drive to conserve energy in some people. There are also health conditions that cause obesity. Some glandular diseases (like Cushing’s disease) affecting the pituitary or thyroid gland can result in obesity. The pituitary gland is effectively the control center for our metabolism.

Psychological issues

For many overweight teens, their physical well being is the least of their problems. The psychological effects of their obesity can have much more damaging and far reaching effects. They are tormented and abused by peers at school and in the local community. For many, it is not just others opinions that are upsetting, but their own self image. Many teenagers (especially girls) are clinically depressed because they are obsessed with their weight. Media images don’t help either, every model and actress you see is generally stick thin to the point of being unhealthy.

Recent studies indicate just how much pressure is faced by obese teenagers. One such survey reveals that obese teenagers rate their quality of life as low as that of young cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. There are other studies which have been carried out that report increased rates of depression, low self esteem and physical and emotional isolation from their peers, which in some cases results in behavioral problems. These teenagers are less likely to apply or be accepted into higher education (college) or to get married, and are more likely to be affected by poverty as adults. What is worse is that many overweight teens will not only be mistreated by others but are excessively hard on themselves.

When you combine the psychological cost of obesity with the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular, orthopedic, gastrointestinal, respiratory, hormonal, neurological and metabolic diseases (diabetes) it can make you realize just how serious an issue teenage obesity statistics are.

Thankfully, there are now weight loss programs available for teenagers which are community based, and combine psychological therapy with behavior change therapy in order to improve teenagers self esteem and physical health.

All guardians of teenagers need to educate themselves about teenage obesity, and must act quickly when children show signs of it if current teenage obesity statistics are to be stopped from spiralling out of control.

source : weightlosstips4kids


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