Friday, October 4, 2013

Essay on Obesity in Adolescence in the United States

Obesity in Adolescence in the United States

Obesity in adolescence in the United States has increased tremendously in the last three decades. Adolescence is an important stage in the growth and development process because it forms the bridge between childhood and adulthood. About 30 percent of adolescents are obese despite the fact that obesity is an easily diagnosable condition.

There is a difference between overweight and obesity. Overweight refers to excess body mass index as defined by the ratio of the height to bone, fat, muscle, and water. Obesity refers specifically to excess body fat. Both, however, result from a caloric imbalance; the calories expended are too few for those consumed.

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Obesity in adolescence can be related to a genetic line of obesity, lack of physical exercise, behavioral factors such as overeating or poor eating habits, low self-esteem, medications, depression, or even medical illnesses. These factors are often compounded for each individual adolescent and should be treated or at least diagnosed to effectively treat the condition. Genetically, for example, the child of an obese parent is 50 percent likely to be obese or overweight (Guo and Chumlea, 147). This increases to 80 percent probability if both parents are obese or overweight.

Studies by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that deaths related to unhealthy weight gain amount to over 300, 000 annually (Daniels, Arnett, Eckel, 111). Its social costs are estimated at $100 billion in the United States alone. To further compound the problem, obese adolescents have a higher chance of becoming obese adults unless the condition is treated.

The onset of obesity in adolescence is likely to be in childhood. The excess body fat poses short-term and long-term effects. Short term effects include increased chances of getting cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol; prediabetes that is indicated by high blood glucose levels; sleep apnea; socialization and psychological problems; and joint and bone problems (Dietz, 856). Long-term effects include the likelihood that the individuals will be obese in their adulthood. This places them at an even higher risk of adult health problems. Obesity and overweight have also been associated with other disorders and conditions such as many types of cancer.

There are many ways to manage obesity depending on the identified factors for the individual teen.

The most generic ways to manage the condition include controlling calorie consumption, increasing physical activity, seeking psychological support such as from a support group, changing eating habits, and entering into a weight-management program (Daniels, Arnett, Eckel, 111). All these solutions are dependent on the willpower of the individual adolescent to maintain a healthy body.

Obesity is a complex problem whose solutions require a multifactor approach. It can only be effectively handled by approaching the issue from different social unit levels, beginning with individuals, families, and policymakers. As a national health issue, obesity among adolescents affects more than just the individuals it inflicts. It lowers the effectiveness of the national health system and increases the economic and sociological burden of the medical system on society. For most adolescents, obesity is a lifelong sentence. Most of them try different ways of losing the extra body fat but fall back into their old eating and exercising habits. The only permanent solution is thus a high discipline in calorie consumption by limiting oneself to healthy foods and exercising as regularly as possible.
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