“How does one fight obesity in teens?” For any ordinary teenager with no overweight problems, this would be a question too easy to answer. Naturally, an obese teen would be advised to eat more healthy food, avoid junk, and get into exercise. These may sound all too easy to accomplish, but for an overweight teen, it would be a feat to choose a whole wheat sandwich over a Big Mac.
Obesity, as described by The WHO, is an abnormal and excessive amount of body fat. The said organization has projected recently that at least one-third of the world’s adult population and almost one-tenth is obese. Even an amazing number of over 20 million children below five years old are overweight. Of course, with no proper intervention, these children go on to be overweight or even obese in their teens.
The risks and obesity consequences are mainly serious health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, including heart diseases and stroke, type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and some cancers like breast and colon cancers, according to the World Health Oganization. It also can lead to severe psychological problems such as depression. In adolescents, the social problems are even greater to handle, causing them to be mocked, bullied and rejected by the communities around them.
It is alarming that teen obesity has become an epidemic over the years. It is a growing concern as its rate continues to increase every year. The American Obesity Association (AOA) has released the statistics that 30.4 percent of adolescents are overweight, and 15.5 percent of adolescents are obese. Although it is true that any ordinary teen will gain weight at one point or another, once his weight goes beyond normal limits, that’s when it increases higher chances for obesity.
Consequently, a teen struggling with obesity may also become an overweight adult, at the least—if no proper intervention is done. It is a real challenge to suffer from obesity, especially in one’s adolescence, and so loved ones, especially family and relatives, must do all the necessary means to help their relative overcome this serious problem.
As in any problem, one must determine the causes in order to find the solution. In this case, what causes teen obesity? Experts emphasize that passive and sedentary lifestyles matched with poor nutrition choices lead to the rate increase of this serious epidemic. Obviously, there are a lot of factors one can think of that contribute to teens’ overweight problems:
- Consumption of junk food and fast food, including sodas and other beverages with high sugar content
- Lack of sports and exercise
- Indoor passive activities such as watching TV and playing computer games for hours
It would be easy to conclude that adolescents should avoid all of these factors in order to fight obesity, but it definitely would not be easy to accomplish. The lure of food as a way to deal with pressure, stress, happiness and even bordome is hard to overcome. Loved ones, including parents and relatives, play a vital role in helping their teens live a healthy lifestyle, therefore reducing the chances for excessive body weight. Teens are still very much dependent on their households for their physical nutrition, and so parents must do what they can to create a healthy environment not just for their children, but for the whole family as well. Parents can greatly influence what their children eat and how they can spend their free time.
Parents may panic when they see that their child is gaining weight more than he should, but they should be careful in dealing with it. A teenagers body size and also their weight are very sensitive topics. Many teenagers who are under intense or even regular pressure from their parental units to maintain a slim figure are proven to be at a higher risk for several types of eating disorders. The same pressures can also lead to various issues with self esteem and self image projections. Teens must not feel that they are treated differently just because they have certain weight problems, because this may only lead them to eat more and choose even more unhealthy food choices. Instead, parents must look for different ways to instill healthy living through a variety of healthy food and physical activities.
This does not mean, though, that parents, especially mothers, should deprive their children from choosing what to eat. Opportunities must also be given to teens to help them choose what they want, and at the same time, mothers must guide them by teaching what’s best for them. After all, it is not a good idea to have an extreme nutrition makeover by totally weaning junk food and sugared drinks. It would largely help to have a transition first by gradually introducing fruits and vegetables, and natural fruit juices. This would help family members easily adjust to a more nutritious diet.
Exercising and playing sports are concrete ways in helping obese or overweight teens lose weight. Playing basketball may be a very good way to lose that extra body fat. Going to the gym may be an effective way to sweat off those calories. Some adolescents, though, do not enjoy these activities at all because of certain preferences, or simply because these activities involve social groups, which they are bullied in. How can they be encouraged then to get into exercise? Parents can make an effort to make it simple and fun for them to burn those extra calories by letting their children walk the dog thirty minutes everyday or allowing them to use the treadmill while watching their favorite TV show.
Lastly, parents must instill healthy living by living healthy lifestyles themselves: eating more fruits and vegetables, avoiding TV-watching for more than thirty minutes, and regularly getting into physical activities. When parents have a positive attitude in healthy living, children are more encouraged to lead fit and healthy lifestyles as well. Parents have the greatest impact on their children’s choices and so they must set good examples for their children to follow.