Obesity and Teens

Fast FoodObesity has received a lot of media attention recently. According to the CDC, a total of 12.5 million people between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese or overweight. Obesity is a major health concern because it increases your risk of getting conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, high blood pressure, and emotional problems such as low self–esteem. Becoming overweight or obese is caused by eating more calories than you’re burning off. A person’s risk of becoming overweight or obese is influenced by behavioral, environmental, and genetic factors.

If you’re a teen and you’re not obese, you might not think this is relevant to you, but healthy eating habits and exercise are important even if you’re thin. Eating healthy foods and doing physical activity now is a great way to prevent weight and health problems in the future. As you get older, your body changes and your metabolism slows down. So, if you practice unhealthy eating habits as a teen, you put yourself at risk for health problems as an adult. There is good news though; if you’re currently overweight or obese and you improve your eating habits and get regular physical activity, you’ll improve your overall health and dramatically decrease your chances of having health problems when you’re older.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • A healthy diet should be made up of a variety of nutrient–dense foods (foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and/or fiber such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole–grains, and dairy).
  • Eat foods that are low in fats and added sugars, and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, sodium, and alcohol.
  • Build physical activity into your daily routine; for example, take a walk instead of riding the bus, and reduce the amount of time you spend watching TV or using the computer.
  • Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re satisfied, and avoid eating out of boredom.