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Obesity in Teenagers

unhappy overweight girl cryingThe teenage years are hard enough without facing them as an overweight teen. There are the obvious social and emotional difficulties that an overweight teen faces, but according to an article on www.heathlychildren.org, (“Obesity’s Impact on Teen Health”), there are some serious health issues to be concerned about as well.

The author claims that at least three of four obese teens will develop serious health problems as a result of their weight as they age; conditions such as degenerative arthritis, heart disease, stroke and several forms of cancer are not uncommon later in life. And morbidly obese teens are at risk for a number of health issues as teens, such as pancreatitis, hypertension, excessive insulin production, insulin resistant diabetes, and sleep apnea to name just a few.

Fortunately, the risk of many of these conditions can be eliminated by achieving a healthy weight (done in a healthy manner). A 10 percent weight loss can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, the emotional damage suffered is not as easily remedied. According to the author, “The pervasive societal prejudice against heavy people has been called one of the last acceptable forms of bigotry; in fact, several studies have shown striking similarities between the psychological characteristics of obese teenage girls and victims of racism.”

The author also quotes a Dr. Garry Sigman, director of the division of adolescent medicine at Advocate Lutheran General Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, as saying that overweight teens are much more likely to suffer a negative body image and low self-esteem. This may cause a social withdrawal, which can lead to the use of food as an emotional support, creating a vicious cycle.

Apparently, studies have shown that even well before the teen years (as early as age five), kids begin to form opinions of others based on their weight, and the idea that someone who’s overweight is bad or less desirable can take hold. This attitude can easily lead to taunts and ridicule directed at an overweight teen and bring on feelings of anxiety and depression so Dr. Sigman cautions parents to be aware of, and on the lookout for, symptoms of both.

Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff Writer

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