Featured Obesity Article


´╗┐Factors Affecting Teen Obesity

Medical professionals, parents, teachers, coaches and others now believe that teen obesity may be reaching epidemic proportions. While the increase in the number of obese teens is a great concern, the added attention has led to identification of habits and lifestyles that may be at the root of the problem.

Even a brief look at the subject of teen obesity uncovers several factors that are considered causes. Among the culprits, according to various sources, are:

- Drinks high in sugar content
- Reduced amounts of exercise
- Family habits learned by teens
- High-tech toys that demand less physical involvement
- Traits and tendencies inherited from parents and grandparents

Researchers have found that, in many cases, teen obesity actually begins with the habits children learn from parents and close friends. Most cultural studies and medical studies show that children between the ages of 6 and 11 cannot change exercise and eating patterns by themselves. When the child has reached this stage, many of the habits developed by living with the family are already formed. As the child moves into the teenage years, habits and the negative health effects move with them. Prevention and treatment of teen obesity begins in the home.

Recent studies show that about 15 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 19 are overweight or obese. Researchers have found that children who grow up in families where there is lack of parental control over diet are much more likely to be overweight. In addition, studies have shown that in homes where there is little or no physical activity by the parents, children are likely to be inactive as well. A large number of those young people progress to teen obesity.

For this age group, however, there is another problem, one that may be unique to teenagers. The psychological impact of teen obesity is a factor that greatly concerns counselors and those in the medical field. During the impressionable years, teens respond to advertising campaigns that glorify thin people. They also adjust their lifestyle based on what others think of them. Peer pressure can be a dangerous influence. If it is misdirected it may lead to life-threatening crash diets and misuse of chemical supplements.

That's why many teen obesity counselors and medical experts have started to deal with the issue in different ways, removing blame from the discussions and concentrating on finding a balance between obesity and its dangerous opposite, anorexia. One author has proposed that school administrators and teachers are in the ideal position to work with teens who are concerned about teen obesity. In any case, prevention may be the best "treatment" for teen obesity, as parents, teachers and friends help individuals avoid high-risk behaviors in the first place.