In the past two decades, the number of obese children and young adults has continued to rise at a phenomenal rate. This, of course, begs the question, what are the steps that can be taken to help prevent obesity in our children?

Who is Considered Obese?

Someone is considered to be obese when the amount of body fat that they have accumulated might have a negative impact on their health. This means that their body weight is at least 20% higher than it should be and/or they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or over. BMI is a measurement that is calculated using your weight and height.

What are The Risks Associated with Obesity?

Obesity in children and young adults may lead to a number of health problems that include, but are not limited to:

• Heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• Sleep apnea
• Asthma

Obesity puts young adults at risk for both immediate health consequences and weight related health problems when they reach adulthood. In addition, there are also psychosocial consequence of being obese i.e. they are likely to be made into targets for systematic social discrimination. The stress caused by this type of social stigmatization can lead to low self-esteem that can hinder social and academic functioning both now and into adulthood.

How Can Parents Help?

In a new study performed by researchers at Brigham Young University, researchers found that young adults who lose weight for their own wellbeing, rather than to fit in, are more likely to succeed in their efforts. Therefore, parents should help their children focus on their health, instead of social pressure, as motivation to lose those unwanted pounds.

Most parents think that their teen is mostly influenced by other people’s perception of them but researchers are finding that their motivations are more intrinsic. The study, published in Childhood Obesity, included 40 formerly overweight or obese teens that lost over 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year.

Every teen involved in study said that losing weight was their decision and that the parents who set good examples of healthy behaviors and who provided healthier foods for meals and snacks were the most helpful. However, it is also important to note, that the teens in the study that successfully shed their unwanted pounds did not get immediate results. Therefore, it is also important for parents to help their young adults set realistic expectations, of 1-2 pounds a week, in their fight against obesity.

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