Why are so many teens so overweight?
The latest data show that about 18 percent of kids ages 12 to 19 are obese, as defined by having a BMI
of 95 in the 95th percentile or higher. That percentage has remained stable over the past decade.
So nearly one in five American teens is obese.
Statistics are one thing. But coming face to face with teen obesity drives home the need to do something about it.
The new ABC Family series "Huge" sure brings you face to face with adolescent obesity. As I write in this week's Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, the show, set at a summer weight-loss camp, is sobering in many ways, including the fact that the young actors playing the overweight teens are themselves overweight or obese.
Watching the show makes you ache for these young people and hope that "fat camp" will help them not only lose weight but sort out the other issues they face by virtue of being fat.
There are lots of efforts afoot these days to help curb child and adolescent obesity, the most prominent of them the Michelle Obama-sponsored Let's Move! campaign. It remains to be seen whether that initiative will succeed in its goal of virtually eliminating childhood obesity -- and, by extension, adolescent obesity -- in a generation.
But teen obesity is a tough nut to crack, in part because it's not clear why some kids become so overweight. There are lots of potential causes, as this overview shows. Of course, lots of kids are overweight simply because they eat too much and don't move around enough.
But as Evan Nadler, co-director of the Obesity Institute at Children's National Medical Center, says in this week's "Eat, Drink" column, teenagers' psychological, self-esteem and social issues often add up to a "much more complicated mental-health situation" than is generally seen in overweight adults.
And there are other variables to contend with: Research released last month showed that inadequate sleep increases risk of obesity, especially for middle-school boys. Genetics can play a role, too, though another study published in April showed that the effects of a certain gene that predisposes teens to weight gain can be countered by an hour a day of moderate to vigorous exercise.
Some of the characters on "Huge" are repeat campers, having lost weight at camp but then regained it later. I'm afraid that cycle is likely to repeat itself among overweight kids everywhere unless we can figure out how to break it.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
June 22, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity , School Nutrition , Teens
Save & Share: Previous: Eye-opening study of disordered-eating Web sites
Next: Do cell phone towers cause cancer?
Posted by: arlingtonwoman | June 22, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: YRahm | June 22, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: byte1 | June 22, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kcx7 | June 22, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: catherine3 | June 22, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rlalumiere | June 22, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: summicron1 | June 22, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LibertyForAll | June 23, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: nfuhrmann | June 23, 2010 3:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Swedish2 | June 23, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mmartin622 | June 26, 2010 5:48 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: atb2 | June 28, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.