Overweight Teenagers – The unluckiest people who ever lived, they say, were Adam and Eve. Simply because they were never teenagers. We all know that the teenage years are the most memorable times of anyone’s life, normally of course, when one can get away by acting both like a child and an adult, since he is neither: too young to be an adult, and too old to be a child. It is also the age of discovery, of fun, pranks and camaraderie, the age when life-lasting friendships and relationships are formed most strongly.
Sadly, however, there are teenagers who cannot enjoy such life to the full, no matter how much they may want to, for one reason that is the cause of all secondary reasons: they are overweight. Fat, obese, piggy, whale size, fatty, lard ass, lardy, porky, wide load and other epithets hurled at them by their contemporaries discourage them from joining in the fun, reduce their self-esteem, and build prejudice against normal behavior in overweight teen-agers. The common result is that such young adults turn to other pursuits or expressions of feelings, more likely delinquency or food, or other forms of aberrant behavior.
Statistics show the prevalence of overweight children in America range from 15% to 30% of the total children population. An almost steadily increasing rate of about 40% has been noted among teens aged 12-17 since the early 1960s, and a very disturbing 98% for children aged six to 11 years. Overweight children have ten times the tendency to be obese in their adulthood.
But such picture is only representative of the total. Obesity has increased tremendously in both sexes, of all ages, and all racial or ethnic groups, education and smoking levels. In short, in almost all sectors of the population, obesity is inexorably becoming prevalent. The typical American of today is an overweight American.
What are the causes of obesity? There are general factors that have been determined to be causal of obesity in Americans, and indeed in other peoples. Some are cultural in nature, while others are effects of technological advancement. In short, many causes are products of the changing world.
Technology. Adults and Overweight Teenagers of today are more and more eschewing active movement: they’d rather sit down in front of the computer and exercise only the fingers on the keypad playing games or surfing the Net. In fact, computers are rapidly overtaking the television as primary focus of attention of Overweight Teenagers in their waking hours (setting aside school and other ‘required’ activities). There is less and less backyard basketball, sandlot baseball, and park football scrimmages among teenagers percentage-wise than ever before.
Food. The constant advertisement of fatty foods such as hamburgers and fries has shifted teenager preference from healthy foods to processed ones. Processed foods contain much salt, fat or sugar, major agents of obesity. Salt retains body fluids; sugar has high calorie content; fat is retained in the body. A high intake of processed food means above-normal levels of salt, sugar and fats in the individual.
Exercise, or lack of it. The present-day meaning of exercise is hours-long working out in the gym, or some rigorous calisthenics akin to karate training. Not many teenagers can afford those in terms of time, effort and money, so they forego other forms believing them not appropriate or not exercise. Ride, not walk; computer, not basketball; bathe, not swim; escalators, not stairs. The American youth is adopting a more sedentary lifestyle, lessening activities that burn up calories, and at the same time ingesting food rich in salt, sugar and fats.
These are just three obvious reasons American teenagers are getting obese. And while these may be the trend of the times, the individual teen-ager who wants to lower his body weight can do a lot of things to counter these, beginning with setting his mind to control his eating and activities. Overweight Teenagers are a growing national phenomenon – Fatty beware!