Teenage obesity is a continually growing problem that has an impact on the physical and mental health of America’s teenage population. This weight-related challenge can impact not only a teen’s current physical health, but also his likelihood of being an obese adult. Many have suggested approaches aimed at curbing this problem, from making junk food unavailable in school to organizing programs that promote teen physical activity, yet nothing has proven ultimately effective in reducing the pervasiveness of this problem.
While many use the terms synonymously, there is a difference between being overweight and being obese. By definition, an obese individual is at least 20 percent heavier than his ideal body weight, reports the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Your teen will be categorized as obese if his body mass index number, a figure that takes into account both height and weight, is at the 95th percentile or higher, reports KidsHealth.
Dangers of Obesity
Although obesity is dangerous for anyone, teens who are obese are not as likely to suffer the ill effects of their excessive weight as severely as adults, reports the Palo Alto Medical Center. These children are, however, at an increased risk of becoming an overweight adult. Additionally, while less common in teens than adults, obese teens are still subject to an assortment of weight-related issues, including high blood pressure, stroke or even early onset heart disease.
Obesity and Genetics
Studies have shown that genetics may play at least a small part in determining if your teen will become obese, reports KidsHealth. Because obesity seems to run in families, scientists have been working on isolating the gene responsible for obesity. The hope is that upon isolating this gene, doctors will be able to treat obesity medically, tackling the weight-issue cause at the source.
Controllable Obesity Causes
The ways of the society in which Americans live likely plays a part in perpetuating the teen obesity epidemic. As KidsHealth reports, food is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in industrialized nations, making it easy for teens to get the fat-filled foods that they desire. Many teens also opt for sugary drinks instead of healthier options, like water.
Emotional Impact of Obesity
Teens who are obese are likely to feel the effects of their excess weight emotionally as well as physically. These teens are more prone to feeling misunderstood, reports KidsHealth. Because many teens who struggle with weight feel isolated from their peers, they are also more likely to slip into depression. These emotional challenges add another layer of difficulty to tackling the teen obesity epidemic, as attempts to promote dieting and exercise can sometimes be seen as indications that obese teens are in some way lacking, further making the obese teen feel unwanted and unfit.