Facts On Adolescent Obesity

In the US, about 25% of teens are obese.

These obese teens are at a very high risk of becoming obese adults. Adolescent Obesity is associated with various medical, psychosocial and eating problems. Future health problems and psycho-social impacts on these children will affect them to a great extent. So it is very important for all of us to get educated on the causes, effects, treatment and management of Obesity.

The two basic causes of Adolescent Obesity are – genetic orientation and environmental effect.

Genetic Causes:

  • Mutations (change in the structure) of Leptin (a hormone that acts on our satiety and energy consumption) coding genes
  • Any variation in the leptin receptor
  • Mutation in proopiomelanocortin coding gene
  • Children with obese parents are two times more prone to get obese.

Environmental Factors:

  • Availability of type of food around you
  • Portion size of diets
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Spending leisure time in front of television

The following are the immediate and long term effects of Adolescent Obesity:

  • Orthopedic problems (slipped capital-femoral epiphysis, Blount’s disease etc.)
  • Pseudotumor cerebri in Obese Women (pressure around the brain increases in the absence of any tumor or any disease causing symptoms like – headache, vomiting or nausea, buzzing sensations in ears, double vision or other visual abnormalities)
  • Sleep apnea is a disorder where pauses during breathing occur while sleeping
  • Gallbladder disease
  • NIDDM (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or Type 2 Diabetes)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Atherosclerosis

Men having more than 25% body fat and women having more than 30% body fat are at very high risks of cardiovascular disease. According to the Harvard Growth Study, adolescence obesity is a predominant reason for moralities due to cardiovascular disease.

Other Risks Associated With Adolescent Obesity:

Psychological effects:

  • low self-esteem
  • laziness
  • increased carelessness

Social effects:

  • lower interests in education and study
  • lower incidence of marriage
  • lower incomes
  • higher poverty

The US Adolescent Obesity Statistics:

  • More than 75 – 80% of overweight youth will retain their obesity into adulthood.
  • 30.4% adolescents of 12-19 years of age are overweight while 15.5% are obese.
  • 35% of the college-goers are overweight.
  • Among youth of 18-25 years of age, 27% were overweight.
  • 31% of the total population in their 20s are overweight.

The above figures are climbing every hour.

Treatment Interventions:

Increasing physical activity –

  • Decreasing television viewing time and other sitting leisure games
  • Increasing participation in exercises, drills and outdoor games
  • Modifying daily activities, like using stairs instead of elevators, riding a bicycle instead of a bike etc.

Dietary Options:

  • Reducing fat in diet
  • Trying a ketogenic diet
  • Introducing Dietary glycemic index diet


Usage of drugs is not recommended in adolescent patients. A few drugs are still under supervision.


Several surgery methods may be performed to take extra fats out of the body.

Sticking To Multidisciplinary Approaches:

The physician performs medical examinations to check for endocrine, metabolic or genetic activities. Nutritionists study the detailed diet history and suggests approaches to eradicate them. Behavioral studies are also performed.

Can Poor Parenting Cause Obesity in Adolescence?

Adolescence is a vital phase of our life. It is the transition period from childhood to adulthood. Individuals belonging to this phase of life have several questions to be answered. They expect their parents to help in finding answers. But erratic work schedules of the corporate sector does not allow the parents to spend quality time with their children. The youngsters grow in loneliness, though their materialistic needs are well met. Emotionally they are deprived of parental love and guidance and quickly frame negative attitudes about life and feel depressed.

Research studies have confirmed the presence of a nexus between obesity, depression, diabetes, heart diseases and prevalent bad habits, like smoking. There is a very simple relationship between obesity and the rest of these medical complications. Adolescents are conscious about their looks. Excess fats in their body make them feel sad before their peer group. Eating junk foods and drinking soft drinks increase sugar and cholesterol levels to new heights, enhancing the risks of diabetes and heart diseases.


Cohort profile: Ho Chi Minh City Youth Cohort–changes in diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour and relationship with overweight/obesity in adolescents.
Trang NH, Hong TK, Dibley MJ.
BMJ Open. 2012 Feb 15;2(1):e000362. Print 2012.
PMID: 22337814 [PubMed – in process]

Dietary education in school-based childhood obesity prevention programs.
Sharma M.
Adv Nutr. 2011 Mar;2(2):207S-16S. Epub 2011 Mar 10.
PMID: 22332053 [PubMed – in process]

Pediatric Obesity And Gallstone Disease: Results From A Cross-Sectional Study of Over 510,000 Youth.
Koebnick C, Smith N, Black MH, Porter AH, Richie BA, Hudson S, Gililland D, Jacobsen SJ, Longstreth GF.
J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012 Feb 6. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 22314396 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Early Childhood Family Intervention and Long-term Obesity Prevention Among High-risk Minority Youth.
Brotman LM, Dawson-McClure S, Huang KY, Theise R, Kamboukos D, Wang J, Petkova E, Ogedegbe G.
Pediatrics. 2012 Feb 6. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 22311988 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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