Teens and Obesity

A new study highlights the long term health impact of obesity starting in the teen years. It’s unbelievable, but 15 percent of adolescents aren’t just overweight, they’re obese; that’s more than one in every seven kids. “30 to 50 years ago I think the incidence of teen obesity would be around three to five percent much less than what it is now between fifteen to twenty percent.//This is a multi-factorial , multi dimensional problem and many issues at stake, including life style changes, easy availability of caloric rich dense food, we have very little play time even at school and at home, the increasing use of electronics, television, computers, people are spending less and less time outside,” says Dr. Ahutosh Kaul, Director of Bariatric Surgery at Westchester Medical Center.

Business is good for Dr. Kaul. And that’s a bad thing. “Until now since man kind started each generation had more of a life span than the previous one this might be the first generation where the life span is less than the previous one,” says Dr. Kaul.

In fact, the latest research in the Annals of Internal Medicine says that having a higher than normal body mass index at age 18, which is an indicator of fatness, is associated with a greater risk of death. The reasons: heart disease, cancer, and suicide. So what should we do? Experts believe it will take at least a generation to reverse what is now a clear trend of overweight and obesity among teens.

“I think we have to have a complete change in the lifestyle, the way you drink, and how you eat and how you spend the free time that is very important,” Dr. Kaul believes. Many say it will take less junk food in school, and more community activities to keep kids physically active. And, at home, it will take parents who have received the wake-up call these studies are hopefully sending.

“I think the most important thing is to put limits for the children on the number of hours they can watch television or play electronic games, the parents have to take a lead on that, if you allow children to play electronic games thought the day they will never expend the energy that they should and their muscles will never be,” says Dr. Kaul. Many experts including Dr. Kaul believe that very soon obesity will be the number one killer in America, much higher than smoking. And sadly, like smoking, the problem is now starting with our teens.


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