The Teen Challenge of Weight Control

Almost everywhere a teenager goes there are opportunities to buy snack foods and. Many schools have snack bars or vending machines, the mall has food courts. If at the movie theater, snacks and munchies will be available for purchase. In truth, many of those establishments do not allow you to bring in your own snacks to eat while watching the featured movie.

All of these eating opportunities is having a negative impact on our health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a revealing summary on the obesity epidemic. What exactly is an epidemic? According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, an epidemic is something that spreads rapidly among many people in a community. This is suitable for obesity, as it is not just situated in America but as the WHO reveals it is a worldwide phenomenon.

Globally, according to the WHO, there are some one billion people that are overweight. That is staggering to think that even in third world countries where not enough food to feed one’s family is a common battle on a daily basis, you still have overweight people.

Now of the one billion overweight people, approximately three hundred (300) million of them are also deemed clinically obese. That is to say if they were in a standard hospital and were measured and weighed properly, they would meet the criterion for obesity.

It is interesting to look at the measuring tools that calculate these statistics. The standard bathroom weighing scale can be off by a few pounds or kilograms for sure. But to make it more accurate many physicians now refer to body mass index (BMI) charts. These charts make it very convenient and a little more accurate in assessing and diagnosing people as overweight or clinically obese.

The BMI measures a subjects body and compares that figure to its weight. The actual calculation is BMI = kg/mg squared. This is a far more accurate way to determine a subjects true body weight. Both the height and the weight is taken into consideration. Whereas with older systems just your weight is the criterion for obesity. If you are tall and weigh the average you know what a problem this could be for health reasons.

A BMI of > 25 for adults is deemed overweight. A BMI of > 30 for adults is denoted as clinically obese. Calculations are a bit more complicated for the child and teen so it should not be relied on in the same manner it is for adults.

The problems that are associated with obesity are not just limited to looks or low self-esteem. But rather, the impact on other disease states such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and stroke just to name a few.

What is equally troubling is that obesity does not seem to be limiting itself to one person in a family. Another popular trend is for children of obese parents to almost automatically become that way too. Part of the problem is genetic predisposition or hereditary component. But in many cases if we are very honest, it is combination of lifestyle choices, activity levels and food consumption that combine to form the perfect storm.

Caregivers, day care workers, parents and others will often times over feed themselves and allow those that they care for to do the same. If children were eating nutritious foods, fruits, vegetables, and nuts the childhood obesity epidemic would not be gaining steam. The advent of fast food restaurants that serve foods that have very little nutritional value does not make eating better any easier.

What you can do is determine to clean out all of the not so healthy foods from your home. Just make a quick go of the snack cakes, pies, candy, soda pop, and other sugar laden snacks that make up a large part of your families diets. If you find that too difficult for you, then start a little slower. You can cut back on the amount of diet pops you buy at the super market this week. Better still, is to replace those pops with water. Make a decision that for every pop you drink today, you will drink one bottle of water. A lot of people need smaller steps to take, if that is you then its okay. Just start even smaller. The most important thing for you to do is to S-T-A-R-T!

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