Overweight Teens Overview

This overweight teens overview covers statistics on teen weight issues, the causes of teenage obesity, problems associated with overweight teens, what is being done to prevent teen obesity, and tips on how you can hep battle teen obesity and keep our children healthy.


One of the growing health problems in the United States is the increase in the number of people who are overweight. And, even as the number of overweight adults increases, so does the number of overweight teens. According to overweight teen statistics offered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the number of youth aged 12 - 19 that are overweight is 17 percent of the population. This is up from 11 percent in 1988-1994. As you can see, weight gain is becoming a problem amongst teenagers in the U.S.

Being overweight is defined as weighing more than a few pounds above the average weight for one’s height, age and what is considered normal health. Also, experts look at body mass index, which is the amount of your weight that is made up of fat, to determine whether or not you may be at an unhealthy weight. It is important to realize that overweight and obese are two different things. Overweight means that you weigh more than is healthy; obese is the next level up - indicating a dangerous level of being overweight.

What are causes of overweight teens?

There are a variety of causes that can contribute to a teenager being overweight. In some cases, genes contribute a great deal to whether or not someone is disposed to become overweight. But, even in cases, of genetic factors, eating and exercise habits play a large role in whether or not someone becomes overweight.

It is also important to note that a lack of exercise can contribute to overweight teens. Indeed, one of the reasons cited for the increase in teen weight gain is the fact that less and less time is spent engaged in activities. More time is taken up with TV, the Internet and video games. This sedentary lifestyle makes it more difficult for teenagers to burn off the calories they are getting from food that has become more unhealthy over the last few decades.

Problems associated with overweight teens

There are numerous health problems associated with being overweight. One of the most common is diabetes, but other illnesses and problems with the heart can also result from being overweight. Some of the other problems that can result from being overweight as a teenager include:

  • Asthma.
  • Arthritis.
  • Hip problems.
  • Sleep problems, including sleep apnea.
  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Headaches.
  • Liver problems.

It is also important to note that some overweight teens develop teen body image problems that can lead to lower self-esteem and to depression. This in turn can lead to other problems that can cause trouble later in life. It is important to address problems of overweight teens and obesity before they go too far.

Efforts to curb teen obesity

Currently, efforts are being made to reduce the number of overweight teens in the U.S. and to curb teen obesity. Many of these efforts involve education. TV spots are being made to encourage teenagers to be active. Indeed, spots are even aiming at children aged 6 - 11 in order to help stop teen obesity before it can begin.

Additionally, there are programs available for overweight teens. Support groups, recreational activities, camps and even online programs are available to help teenagers reduce their risks due to becoming overweight, and to help them lose weight if they are in a dangerous position.

One of the more effective ways to help overweight teens is to approach the problem as a family. Parenting an overweight teen is not always easy, and many parents are fearful of making the right decisions in helping their overweight teen. There are Web sites available where parents, brothers and sisters, as well as friends, can all sign up and work together to live healthier lifestyles. This can offer a supportive environment for overweight teens and make it a family activity.

Ideas for battling teen obesity

There are a number of small steps overweight and obese teens can take in order to help reduce their chances of developing problems. Once the ball is rolling, it is possible to step up to more difficult behaviors. But here are some simple things to try out initially:

  • Take a short walk each day.
  • Start out with some stretching in the morning.
  • Cut out high-calorie beverages.
  • Reduce the number of sweets one has each day.
  • Have easy to eat fruits and vegetables prepared daily for easy snacking (apple and orange slices, grapes, baby carrots, celery sticks, bananas, etc.).
  • Get video games like Dance Dance Revolution and Wii sports games to encourage some activity.

It is important to note that such programs should emphasize a healthy lifestyle change, rather than just focus on losing weight.

Related Article: Obese vs. Overweight >>