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Adolescent obesity

Obesity is a serious health concern for young people

Childhood and adolescent obesity are rapidly approaching epidemic status. In North Carolina, one in every four children is seriously overweight and the prime culprits are physical inactivity and poor nutrition habits.

Like adults, overweight and obese adolescents have a multitude of health problems, from diabetes to joint pain, menstrual irregularities and depression. Obesity also aggravates already existing chronic conditions, such as asthma.

Psychological issues

Adolescents who are obese face psychological consequences. The prejudice associated with obesity is intense and young people are often humiliated and suffer permanent emotional scars. Weight loss is about skills, not will. Children lack the skills to eat less and exercise more in a society that teaches them to do just the opposite. It is a different skill set – much like learning to play the piano or driving a car.

Here are some skills that your child may find helpful in the weight-loss process:

  • Understand the buzz. Fast food restaurants advertise to persuade individuals to buy their products, but teen-targeted magazines and television stations advertise that "thin is in". The messages are conflicting.
  • Take control of your environment:
    • Pass on the "biggie sizes" and "value meals" to control your portion sizes
    • Cut back on television time and increase your activity.
  • Focus on your health instead of your waist:
    • Don't use your weight to measure your self-worth.
    • Pay attention to healthy food choices, exercising and gaining strength.
  • Write down what you eat, how much of it you eat and the time you eat it. This helps identify diet patterns and problem areas.
  • Develop realistic expectations about what's possible and what's practical:
    • A small drop in body weight can make a big difference in health.
    • Set achievable short-term goals and you'll experience success. When accomplished, they will boost your self-esteem and help you tackle the longer-term goals you set for yourself.
    Healthier families = healthier kids

    Parents are the key to ensuring that their children start taking their physical health serious. By encouraging healthy eating habits and regular physical activity, parents can help ensure that their children achieve a balanced lifestyle. At the Novant Health Maya Angelou Women's Health & Wellness Center, we work with parents and teens to develop healthy eating plans and fun, energy-filled exercise routines. We teach adolescents and their parents about how to adopt healthier lifestyles, choose healthy snacks and lunches, track calorie intake, portion-control and about the importance of exercise.

    For more information about adolescent weight management programs, contact the Maya Angelou Women's Health & Wellness Center at 336-718-3780 or call toll-free 1-888-218-1234.