Teen Obesity

By: Edgar Zavala

Teen Obesity

One of the growing concerns affecting today's teenagers is the increase in the rate of teen obesity. According to the American Obesity Association, about 30.4 percent of teenagers are overweight, and 15.5 percent of teens are obese. This means that 45.9 percent of teens are at risk for developing health problems due to weight. It is important to note that weight gain during the teen years is normal. It is when that weight gain progresses beyond normal limits that teens become at risk for obesity. Generally speaking, a person is obese when the BMI exceeds 30 percent.

Causes Of Teen Obesity

Most experts point out that an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, coupled with poorer nutrition choices, is contributing to the growing number of teens considered overweight or obese. Some factors that contribute to teens' unhealthy weight gain include (3):

  • Increased intake of "junk" food
  • Drinking sugary drinks, especially soda
  • Lack of physical activity (including many schools' decisions to cut P.E.)
  • Temptation of indoor sedentary activities including television, video games and computer use
  • Genetic factors

Health Effects On Obesity

The effects that teen obesity has on health can begin during the teen years and extend throughout a lifetime if not checked. Here are some of the common health conditions thought to have teen obesity as a risk factor

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sleep problems, including sleep apnea
  • Orthopedic (bone) problems due to an inability of the developing bones to support the excess weight
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Heart disease

Additionally, teenage obesity can lead to psychological problems associated with negative body image and social issues associated with being treated as an outcast.