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Obesity in Teens- How to Combat This Growing Problem?

Obesity is one of the Primary Health concerns in the US. About 37% of men and 41% of women have this health concern. Children and teenagers are touched by this health issue as about 15% of them have it. If you are also concerned about your teenager’s weight and want to know more about obesity in teens and how to combat this growing problem, then read on. 

Understanding Obesity in Teens

In simple words, obesity in teens is considered to be present when a teen has too much body fat. If left unchecked, it might become a long-term health issue that can increase the risk of serious health problems like cancer, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many others. 

Causes of Obesity in a Teen

There are many reasons for teen obesity. The main reason could be consuming more calories than the energy consumed in a day. It usually leads to weight gain. That’s why doctors, dieticians, and health experts ask people to monitor their calorie intake. 

However, all weight gain and obesity are not linked to calorie consumption. A combination of some things can cause a teen’s obesity. It can be linked to metabolism, genes, socioeconomic issues, lack of sleep, emotional issues, lifestyle choices, and even endocrine disorders, diseases, and medicines. 

Which Teens Are at Risk for Obesity?

Many things might put your teen at risk for obesity. Some of them are:

  • Metabolism

Each person’s body uses energy differently. Metabolism and hormones affect different people in diverse ways. The metabolism is often a reason for unexplained weight gain in teens or even children. 

  • Genes

Obesity can pass through families. If a teen has one obese parent, their chances of being at risk for obesity increase. There could be a link between obesity, genes, and the ever-changing environment. 

  • Lifestyle Choices

Inactive lifestyle and overeating can contribute to obesity. Teens who consume sugar-laden, refined, and high-fat foods can gain considerable weight. A lack of exercise can make things worse. Watching too much TV or sitting in front of a computer all day can also contribute to teenage obesity. 

  • Socioeconomic Factors

Status and obesity can also be interlinked. Teens in low-income families might be more prone to obesity as they might have limited access to affordable and healthy foods. Sometimes, teens from such families don’t have a safe place to exercise regularly. 

Symptoms of Obesity in a Teen

The key sign of obesity is an excess of body fat. Usually, it is measured by Body Mass Index- BMI. If a teen is overweight, their BMI would likely be between the 85th and 95th percentile for age and gender. The teen is considered obese if the BMI is higher than the 95th percentile for age and gender.

How is Teen Obesity Diagnosed?

A healthcare provider will usually identify and diagnose obesity in teens. BMI can also be used for this purpose. It has two key categories. BMI of 30 or more than that, whichever is smaller, and BMI at 95th percentile or more for age and gender. In addition to BMI, the teen should also have a screening that looks at critical health risk areas like family history of high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. Large gains in BMI from year to year are also a factor. 

How to Treat Teen Obesity?

The treatment for teen obesity depends on your teenagers’ symptoms and the severity. In most cases, treatment for teen obesity would cover – diet counseling, increasing physical activity or creating an exercise program, changes to diet and per day calorie consumption, and behavioral changes. In some cases, behavior or group therapy could be used to change behavior and face feelings related to developmental issues and weight gain. 

The treatments usually include taking the help of mental health professionals, nutritionists, exercise specialists, and a doctor. They will motivate the teen to make changes and follow set treatments. They would also set and help achieve realistic goals. 

How Does Obesity Affect a Teen?

There are many possible complications of obesity in a teen. Some of them are:

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can often lead to heart disease. 
  • Type 2 Diabetes- Obesity can cause resistance to insulin, and the blood sugar can become higher than usual. 
  • Joint Issues- Obesity can also affect the knees and hips of a teen as extra stress is placed on the joints due to the extra weight of a person. 
  • Sleep Apnea- In many cases, obesity can also lead to sleep apnea, a condition in which a person stops breathing for brief periods during sleep. It can also lead to snoring and interruptions in sleep. 
  • The risk of asthma is also higher in obese teens. 
  • Sometimes, teenagers also suffer from psychological issues due to obesity. They might be blamed for their obesity and termed as weak-willed. They might also have low self-esteem, impacting their emotional health and social life. 

How to Prevent Teen Obesity?

Here are some tips to prevent teen obesity.

  • Change your family’s eating habits and ask everyone to be more active. Don’t just focus on the teen. The entire family should be healthy. 
  • Be a role model for your teen by choosing healthy foods and staying active. 
  • Clock Physical Activity- Ask your teen to do a physical activity for at least one hour daily. 
  • Restrict the Screen time of your teen to 2 hours a day. That’s all they get to spend in front of a laptop or a computer device. 
  • Keep healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and superfoods at home and don’t have any junk food at home. 
  • Ensure your teen has at least five servings of fruit every day. 
  • Encourage your teen to have more plain water and freshly squeezed juices instead of sugar-laden colas and processed juices. 
  • Make sure your teen gets ample sleep every day. Set an earlier bedtime for them. 

Get Expert Help

If you think the obesity issue is getting to be too huge for your teen and you need the help of an expert, you can contact me, Michelle Mehta, a certified professional co-active coach, an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, and a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner. 

I am passionate about helping teenagers feel authentic, empowered, worthy, loved and helping them create a sense of belonging and believe that the world needs their talents. So, if you feel you’re called to have your teenager work with me, let’s set up a time to talk and connect. I look forward to Empowering Your Teenager to Shine with Confidence. To know more, click here


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Michelle Mehta

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