Teenage obesity has become a global challenge. Before we go into the depth of this topic, let us first understand what obesity is and how does it differ from being overweight. Any individual with a body mass index (BMI)
more than or equal to 25 is considered overweight, and if the BMI is more than or equal to 30 the individual is obese.
‘Prevention of obesity or early intervention is the dictum to check or control morbidity in obese teens’
Physiology of Teenage
As we all know teenage or adolescent period is a transition time between childhood and adulthood, hence it is during this time that body and mind are undergoing major changes in terms of growth and mentation and not to mention the hormonal disharmony during this stage which adds to the misery.
When the body is subjected to stress automatically its energy requirement increases and especially in teens, studies have proven that energy requirement(to combat the ongoing changes ) increases by 20-40% of the usual.
Calorie Requirement and Expenditure
Average calorie requirement
in a 14-18 year-old teenager is about 2200-3600Kcal per day. Talking about energy and calories, the most common source of calories are either carbohydrates or fats. After utilization of the required amount the only thing which happens to the calories consumed is deposition, in turn leading to obesity. Hence, the balance between consumption, utilization and expenditure is the dictum to prevent the onset of obesity
Obese adolescents are around 16 times more likely to become morbidly obese by the age of 30 - 35 than their healthier counterparts.
During childhood even when high-calorie food is consumed the body is active most of the day. As a result the extra calories are expended thus preventing obesity.
The calories we consume are expended in two ways, the majority of the calories are burnt down in day-to-day activities like breathing, maintaining specific body temperature, among others. The other way is by physical activities or workouts, though this is the most understood but least followed way to burn excess calories this makes a huge difference in preventing and treating obesity
Energy Saving Mode of the Body
There are studies which have stated that there is a drop in metabolic rate during puberty activating energy saving mode, in turn, making way for obesity. Now let's discuss the meaning of this phrase it actually relates back to the evolutionary era where extra calorie consumption was not a possibility and the body changes during puberty had to be dealt with the same amount and type of food hence, as a reflex mechanism, the body would move on to an energy saving mode to facilitate proper growth and maintenance of vital functions. Times have changed now, and an extended time of low-calorie expenditure could lead to a life altering - rather life-threatening problem of obesity.
Consequences of Teenage Obesity
Untreated or unaddressed teenage obesity could mean early invitation to obesity-related problems like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
According to 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) 13.9% of high school students were obese and an additional 16% were overweight. State obesity rates among high school students ranged from a low of 10.3% in Montana to a high of 18.9% in Mississippi with a median of 13.3%.
In a population-based sample of 5-17 year-olds 70 % of obese youth had one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Prevention and Treatment
The reason for discussing this under one heading is that in the management of obesity prevention and treatment both go hand in hand.
Australian guidelines recommend children and teens to have 60 minutes of vigorous activity each day.
Prevention and treatment involve two main streams
Health Tips to Prevent Obesity
- Diet modification - As the saying goes eat wise - drop a size
Workouts or exercises - to increase the expenditure of accumulated calories
- Diet modification does not mean starvation, eating healthy and nutritious food is the simple and right solution to get rid of excess body weight effortlessly. All it requires is to replace pizza or burger by a bowl of fruits or vegetables.
- Workouts in the form of planned regimes and group workout like exercising
in a gym or doing aerobics can be very helpful.
- Weight loss could also be achieved by pursuing healthy hobbies like gardening, hiking, trekking and cycling.
- Bariatric surgery is one of the latest treatments for morbidly obese teen.
But always PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.
- Childhood Obesity Facts - (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm)
- Adolescent Obesity in the United States - (http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_977.html)
- Obesity Rates & Trends - (http://stateofobesity.org/rates/)