Over the past decade, teen obesity has become one of the leading health issues in the United States. As a teen, or a parent of a teenager, it’s easy to downplay the potential damage of excess weight. It may seem like the weight gain is simply the result of growing up, and will be easy to lose later. Or it may seem that being overweight is not such a big deal; plenty of people are overweight, after all.
But the last decade has seen the rise of hundreds of studies correlating teenage obesity with a number of detrimental side effects. If you are overweight as a teenager, or are the parent of an overweight teen, it’s important to understand the significant risks that come along with excess weight.
At Wellspring Camps, our mission is to help people establish and manage a healthy weight over the long-term. Here are four reasons why weight is such an important issue for teenagers:
1. Avoid serious health risks as an adult
It’s long been established that obesity is correlated with a high number of other health issues. But in 2013, a group of researchers set out to understand the link between teenage obesity and adult health problems. They found that severely overweight teens were at high risk of hypertension, diabetes, walking impairment, respiratory diseases, and other health problems throughout their adulthood. These health issues are severe, but can be avoided by getting your weight under control.
2. Correlation between obesity and low self-esteem
A 2004 study on teenage obesity and self esteem found a high correlation between the two factors. Overweight teenagers suffered from significantly lowered self-esteem as compared to their peers. This was highly driven by sensitivity to judgement from peers especially during the adolescent years. Low self-esteem can cause a number of psychological health issues, compounding the potential health implications stemming from weight problems.
3. Correlation between obesity and poor academic performance
Excess weight as a teenager doesn’t just translate into potential health issues. A 2012 study in the Child Development journal found that obese children and teenagers are more likely to be held back a grade, and are less likely to graduate high school or go on to college than their peers. Higher levels of education have in turn been correlated with greater income levels, better health, and other positives.
4. High Financial Cost of Excess Weight
As an adult, obesity can be financially costly. The health problems caused by excess weight are not the only cost: decreased career opportunities, decreased productivity, and even increased costs from necessary purchases like health insurance all add up. All told, an obese adult loses between $6500-$8400 per year due to weight-related costs.
Even small changes can have a big impact. The most effective way to avoid the significant problems of adult obesity is to address your weight as soon as you can. As a teenager, it’s especially important to form new exercise and nutrition habits, which can set you up for long-term success at a healthy weight.
1. Inge, Thomas H., et al. “The Effect of Obesity in Adolescence on Adult Health Status.” Pediatrics 132.6 (2013): 1098-104.
2. Klaczynski, Paul A., Kristen W. Goold, and Jeffrey J. Mudry. “Culture, Obesity Stereotypes, Self-Esteem, and the “Thin Ideal”: A Social Identity Perspective.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 33.4 (2004): 307-17.