Obesity among children between the ages of 13 and 17 years is on the increase. The condition puts the children at risk of illnesses associated with being overweight, which include high body cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases. The effects of obesity impact negatively on the lives of the teenager and their families. In addition to the cardiovascular diseases and resistance to insulin, obese adolescents may experience general discomfort and respiratory diseases such as asthma. They are also bullied more and struggle with low self-esteem compared to children of the same age that have a healthy weight. The main cause of child obesity is their lifestyle and the food they consume.
The measures taken so far to prevent adolescent obesity have not been effective because they focus on treating the conditions caused by obesity instead of trying to prevent the condition. Today, teenagers consume high-calorie foods and are largely inactive; therefore, it is easy for them to gain excessive weight. The prevention of obesity needs to be tackled using policy, legislation, and a change of mindset among adolescents and their parents (Parkin et al., 2015). Fighting the mentioned condition from these fronts could achieve the goal of preventing adolescent obesity and the associated health problems. It will also significantly improve the quality of life for adolescents.
Of the various mitigation measures for childhood obesity, changing their mindset is the one most likely to work compared to the rest because these individuals have to be willing to change their habits for obesity to be eradicated. The objectives of the program to reduce adolescent obesity include:
- To create awareness among the parents and children regarding the causes and consequences of obesity
- To augment the time spent by the children in physical activities
- To limit access to junk food by the adolescents
- To encourage the parents to be more mindful of the wellbeing of their adolescent children
With regards to the first objective, most of the affected people do not know the cause of their condition until it is too late. A family might eat unhealthy foods for years without realizing the harm the foods are doing to their bodies. Adolescents might avoid outdoor games and concentrate on indoor games such as video games. Though mentally stimulating, computer video games cause adolescents to become overweight due to lack of mobility (Amini et al., 2015). Having intimate knowledge about the relationship between exercise, food, and obesity will help families in making the right decisions for their adolescent children.
Physical activities, which include walking, cycling, dancing, games such as football and basketball among others, are important in preventing obesity. The time spent on physical activities can be increased by introducing regulations in schools that require the students to be involved in physical exercises that will then be reflected in their grades. The media can be used to hype the benefits of physical exercise and influence teenagers positively (Amini et al., 2015). Limiting children’s access to junk foods can be done through the enforcement of policies. Such policies should ban the establishment of fast food enterprises near schools or residential places where the adolescent children are likely to be, which helps in curbing the craving the children might harbor for the fast foods.
Encouraging parents to be more mindful of the welfare of their children can work well in fighting obesity. They need to be trained how to prepare healthy foods and motivate their children to be physically active at home, can be achieved through workshops on parents and social media campaigns (Parkin et al., 2015). Sharing of success stories among parents that have managed to keep their adolescent children healthy and free from obesity can encourage many others to take action. The key is to have the parents do it out of their own free will.
Cases of obesity among teenagers have increased over the years, which indicates gaps in the prevention measures put in place to fight the condition. As such, it is imperative to come up with effective measures. Some of the measures that may work include changing the mindsets of adolescents and their parents, a change in policy, and training parents on how to prevent obesity in their children. These measures should be evaluated occasionally to gauge their success.
Amini, M., Djazayery, A., Majdzadeh, R., Taghdisi, M., & Jazayeri, S. (2015). Effect of school-based interventions to control childhood obesity: A review of reviews International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 6(1)
Parkin, P., M.D., Gorber, S. C., PhD., Shaw, E., M.D., Bell, N., M.D., Jaramillo, A., M.Sc., Tonelli, M., M.D., & Brauer, P., Ph.D. (2015). Recommendations for growth monitoring, and prevention and management of overweight and obesity in children and youth in primary care. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 187(6), 411-421.