Everyone knows that America has a bit of a weight problem. In fact, we were recently found to officially have the highest obesity percentage in the world. Unfortunately, these statistics are carrying over to our youth. According to the American Obesity Association, nearly 31% of teenagers are overweight, while 15.5% are considered obese. This means that roughly 46% of American teens are at risk for developing health problems associated with being overweight., which is more than triple what it was in 1980.
Other than cardiovascular disease, one of the biggest health risks associated with teenage obesity is developing type 2 diabetes. This number is on the rise as well. Ten years ago, roughly 1 in 10 teenagers suffered from type 2 diabetes. Now it is nearly 1 in 4. This is especially worrisome, as it has been found that diabetes progresses faster in children and is harder to treat than in adults.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to this increase in diabetes and obesity cases in teens. They include (but are not limited to) an increased intake of junk food (sugary drinks, fast food, etc.) and increasingly sedentary lifestyle. It does not help that more and more schools are cutting programs like P.E. due to funding shortfalls.
But not all is lost. More and more parents are fighting to keep their kids from suffering the fate of being overweight or developing diabetes. A recent poll showed that 61% of parents were willing to change their habits to help their children avoid becoming obese. This can be a very effective way to reduce these numbers, as children tend to model their eating habits off of their parents’.
It is completely unrealistic to expect children to cut sweets and all sedentary activities all together. But try to limit them as best you can or change up what they do. For instance, some parents encourage their children to watch TV while on a treadmill or a stationary bike, and replacing sugary snacks with dried fruit or fruit leather. These are just a few ideas to help decrease your child’s risk of becoming obese or developing diabetes, as well as a myriad of other health issues associated with being overweight. Hopefully with techniques like these, parents will be able to bring those scary numbers back down to healthier levels, paving the way for a healthier population in the future.