Adolescent Obesity

Dr. Purushothaman
November 29, 2013

teenage obesity

Do we have reason to be concerned about adolescent obesity? Over the past three decades the number of overweight and obese children has nearly tripled. Statistically adolescent obesity accounts for over 17% of those numbers. Overweight children have a higher risk of developing lifelong health problems more than their adult counterparts because obesity during childhood is associated with an increased rate of illness and even death in adulthood. Adult obesity is far more difficult to treat which means if adolescent obesity is not treated the consequences could be grave.

There are many reasons for the increase in adolescent obesity one particular reason is the world that we live in. Technologically we have advanced and gurus are always trying to find ways of simplifying our lives. The problem is that because of the almighty dollar some of the technological advances are targeting our youth. Video games, computers, and big screen television sets have all contributed to sedentary lifestyles. The lure and excitement of these gadgets also come at a price with advertising. Particularly the internet and social networking which entices adolescence with free ring tones and other offers to gain access to an e-mail address. The result is e-mail marketing for convenience foods and fast foods that are high in fat and calories. The most common cause, of course, is eating too many calories and not getting enough exercise.

Everyone needs and has some fat tissue in their bodies but when teens have too much it results in adolescent obesity. There are several different methods used to calculate body fat percentage the most commonly used method is called the body mass index. This is a measurement of an individuals height in relation to weight. The result is a figure that is used to determine their body mass index. There are three categories of obesity. Class I obesity is defined as a BMI score of 30-34.9, and Class II obesity is defined as a BMI of 35-39.9. Lastly, Class III obesity, also known as morbid obesity or severe obesity, is defined as a BMI score of 40 or higher. Based on these numbers, as many as one-third of all Americans are considered obese.

Adolescent obesity takes no prisoners. It effects all ethnic groups, religious groups, genders, financially secure and insecure families, educational levels and more. There are many influences for the increase in overweight children such as environmental factors. Parents are spending less time with their children because of the need for two income sources and they are unable to monitor the eating habits and exercise that their children get. Issues in school with peer pressure and taunting or teasing. Many overweight children get picked on leading them into isolation and contributing to adolescent obesity. Family conflict also contributes to obesity in children. When families are struggling many times children become secondary and they turn to food to nurture hurt feelings. Parents become less aware of the effects of the conflict on their adolescents and how they are venting their anger and pain.

Solving the problem of adolescent obesity can be accomplished with the help of schools, the community and most of all the parents. Focusing on healthy eating, healthy lifestyles, exercise, and doing it as a family. It all starts at home. Parental involvement and support is critical for adolescents to gain control of their weight.

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