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Overweight Teens & Facts on Obesity

     Here are some facts about teenagers and children with respect to obesity. Obesity can weaken physical health and well-being and can shorten life expectancy. It can lead to social disabilities and unhappiness, which may cause stress and even mental illness. The development of a personal identity and body image is a major goal for adolescents. Your parents, physician and teachers can help you. If you think you are overweight, talk to a trusted adult about what you can do to become more healthy and fit.

1) In the United States at least one child in five is overweight, and the number of overweight children continues to grow. Over the last two decades, this number has increased by more than 50%, and the number of "extremely" overweight children has nearly doubled (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 1995 [149:1085-91]).

2) Obesity can be defined as an excessive accumulation of body fat, which results in individuals being at least 20% heavier than their ideal body weight. "Overweight" is defined as any weight in excess of the ideal range.

3) Obesity is a common eating disorder associated with adolescence. The incidence of obesity among American teen-agers is 12 to 15%. Obesity is more common in girls. One study reported a high prevalence of obesity in 14-year-old girls(32.4%) compared to 14-year-old boys (3.6%).

4) Although children have fewer weight-related health problems than adults, overweight children are at high risk of becoming overweight adolescents and adults. Overweight people of all ages are at risk for a number of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and some forms of cancer.

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