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Teen Obesity Statistics

Statistics show teen obesity has grown to epidemic portions in the U.S.. This article will review teen obesity statistics, take a look at what causes teen obesity, and suggest activities to help reduce teen obesity.


The term childhood obesity includes children and teens aged 6 to 19 years old. The Institute of Medicine currently reported there are approximately nine million children over 6 years of age who are considered to be obese.

Teen Obesity Statistics

Teen obesity has grown to epidemic proportions in the United States.

The US Department of Health and Human Services recently published teen obesity statistics regarding this dangerous trend.

According to the report, 14% of adolescents in the United States are overweight. This figure has nearly tripled in the last 20 years.

This means that 14% of our teens are at risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Type 2 Diabetes has also increased dramatically in teens as a direct result of teen obesity. Additionally, teens who are dealing with teen obesity have a very high probability of being obese as adults further increasing their risk of other serious health problems.

Reading these teen obesity statistics may be a little frightening but may also be viewed as "something to worry about tomorrow" because teen obesity statistics are dwarfed by other problems teens face today. Teens dealing with teen obesity also deal with social discrimination which can be devastating. Overweight or obese teens often have low self esteem which keeps them from joining in many activities with other teens. Obese teens may also suffer from depression which can lead to a viscous circle of staying at home watching TV and snacking, gaining more weight, feeling worse about themselves, and spending more time in front of the TV.

Obese teens may feel this is a problem they are powerless to change. IT ISN'T.

What Causes Teen Obesity?

The cause of teen obesity is generally lack of physical activity combined with unhealthy eating habits. We have become a very sedentary society. We spend hours sitting in front of computers, video games, or televisions. One survey showed 43% of adolescents watched more than two hours of television per day.

Daily physical education has been eliminated from a lot of schools. More children are "latchkey" children who, while waiting for parents to come home from work, sit and watch TV or play video games. In a January report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. William Dietz, Director of the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity concluded "of all the ways of tackling this problem, TV reduction appears to be the most effective measure in reducing weight gain in this population

The other side of the equation, our diet, too often consist of greasy fast food, sugary snacks, and large portion sizes at restaurants. Going on a strict diet is not the answer. It is important to change the way the whole family eats. Whole fruits, whole vegetables and whole grains should make up a large part of the diet. Parents need to know the value of choosing whole grain breads rather than white. The August 2002 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition contains a report showing a strong correlation between the amounts of whole grain consumed over a four year period, and healthier weight, healthier waist-to-hip ratio, and decreased risk for diabetes. This was true no matter how much refined grain was eaten, and no matter how much fiber.

Recent reports from public health organizations have concluded that if children are given appealing places to play, it increases their participation and as a result their health was markedly improved and reduces teen obesity by increasing weight loss.

Activities to do to help reduce teen obesity:

  • Play basketball
  • Play tennis
  • Play volley ball
  • Play racket ball
  • Go to a skate park
  • Go swimming
  • Play any ball sports

These can all make a big difference in teen obesity. Additionally there are classes in dance, gymnastics, karate, etc. There are youth baseball, football and soccer teams to join. The idea is to choose something fun and get moving, dancing, jumping, climbing, walking, skating?. So, grab an apple and go have fun!

Related Article: Teen Eating Disorders >>

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