In 1980, five percent of 12-19 year olds were obese. In 2012? The number jumped to nearly twenty one percent! (source) That means that in a school of five hundred teens, in 1980 25 of them would be obese (defined as having extreme excess body fat). Today, that number would be close to one hundred. While teens might fret over their appearance and other social issues that come from obesity, there are serious health problems too.
Teens can develop bone and joint issues, pre-diabetes, and even high blood pressure. These conditions used to be associated with old people. In addition, obese teens are likely to be obese adults which means an earlier and greater risk of practically every disease and negative health condition.
The teenage obesity epidemic is a real problem and it seems to be getting worse. Why is it such a big problem? Here are my theories.
Where do most teens spend their free time? With technology. Sure they might be hanging with friends or technically doing something else. But, in most cases they are with their phones, tablet, or video game systems. I love technology, but if a teen is glued to their phone, what are they not doing? Being active. Which leads us to point two…
Lack of activity
While some teens play sports or participate in physical activity, there is a large percentage of teens who do nothing. I’ll bet it’s close to twenty one percent. These teens don’t even get out and walk much. They spend their time watching TV, in front of screen of some kind, or hanging with friends (but not doing anything active). This inactivity leads to obesity because it’s usually combined with unhealthy eating.
It’s hard to expect teens to be healthy when their parents aren’t. And, the percentage of obese adults is rising too. If a parent doesn’t work out or eat right, it’s hard to expect a teen to take the initiative and do otherwise. Although some do, most will not. So, obese parents create obese teens.
So, the teenage obesity epidemic is a real problem. Next week, I’m going to list ways parents can help their children lose weight and get healthy.