Obesity is defined as an excessive accumulation of body fat, which is identified through the concept of Body Mass Index (BMI). Specifically, overweight refers to an excess body weight with a BMI of 25 to 29.9. However, individuals with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. Although our society is preoccupied with the “art” of thinness, obesity is finally recognized as an increasing health problem.

Obesity in teens costs the country billions of dollars a year in disease management and emergency room visits for heart problems and diabetes. However, the cost to teens isnt as easily quantified; the problems that arise for obese teenagers range from physical to mental and can only be cured gradually over time. Below is a simple guide outlining three main risks associated with teen obesity and three ways to combat teenage obesity.

Causes of Obesity in Teens:

1. Poor eating habits

More and more teenagers provide for themselves when it comes to preparing and eating meals. Most of the meals a teenager eats are provided at school. Sometimes these choices are less than healthy options, like pizza and French fries. Also available in many schools are numerous vending machines selling sodas, chips, and candy bars. Dinner may be the first and only chance a teenager has to eat a healthy meal.

2. Lack of exercise

Teenagers get little opportunity for physical movement during school, and with the elimination of many Physical Education requirements, they get next to none. This lack of activity coupled with the increased number of video and computer games keep teenagers stationary and unable to exert the energy needed to burn off the calories they consume.

3. Depression

Depression during adolescence is a major cause of many eating problems, but usually goes undiagnosed. Depression decreases a teenagers interest in normal activities and may decrease their level of physical exertion. A poor appetite may also result, thus making a teenager more susceptible to illness and obesity.

Triggers To Watch For:

1.    Your obese teen has less energy or interests and is hesitant to participate in social relationships or other activities;

2.    Your obese teen appears increasingly sad, lonely, angry or withdrawn.

3.    Your obese teen has few friends.

4.    Your obese teen has thoughts of causing harm to him/herself or others.

5.    Your obese teen is obsessed with eating.

6.    Your obese teen sleeps too much or not enough.

7.    Your obese teen is reluctant to go to school.

Treatment for Teen Obesity:

1.    It is best to eat healthy food, like fruits, vegetables, grains so that all essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrition are provided to the body.

2.    Foods like pasta, French fries, pizza and aerated drink should be restricted.

3.    One of the best ways to loosing weight for teens is walking.

4.    Exercises can be done at least 3 times per week but no weights and dumbbells should be used.

5.    It is also necessary to maintain 50% natural raw foods in everyday diet along with having plenty of water each day.

6.    Requiring physical education and health programs during school is an important way to contribute to a teenagers physical well-being.

7.    Access to counselors and responsible, trusted adults is important in the development of adolescent health.

8.    Many schools instituted healthier eating programs on their campuses, emphasizing more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.