Teenage obesity: Trends and Prevention

Studies show that as many as 2.3 million teens in the United States are considered obese, or demonstrate evidence of obesity. Often times unchecked, teenage obesity can increase the risk of cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, and more. It's time to start thinking about your body and your health.


Intervention - what you can do.

Treatment of teenage obesity needs to involve permanent changes in the way a teenage eats and exercises. Short term, rapid weight loss programs should NOT be used as a method of losing the pounds. Instead, consistent, gradual changes in activity and diet are safer and will produce long term, lasting results.

One of the most important things to realize when you're dealing with teenage obesity is that the teenage is most likely experiencing a wide range of emotions and may be very sensitive to the topic. At a time in life when social and developmental factors are already hightened, the teen is likely to be much more concerned about image, friendships, and social standing when considering their bodies and health. But it's important to be able to talk about obesity, and the potential risks it holds for the teenager. Not talking could be fatal.


Here are a couple of ideas you might want to consider if you're dealing with teenage obesity:

  • Monitor eating and activity. Having a written record will make actual patterns and habits more apparent. It's easy to shrug things off and say "oh, just one more" until you start writing things down and see what's actually being done in terms of eating and activity.
  • Decrease the time in front of the TV.
  • Don't make kids exercise. Looking at exercise as play time or physical activity instead of using the actual word "exercise" can make the event more appealing.
  • Promote health self-esteem and self-acceptance. Don't talk negatively about your own body and let the teen know it's ok no matter what they weight.

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