Everything from junk food to hormone mimicking chemicals to television commercials has been blamed for the increase in overweight young people, but whatever the complex reasons behind the troubling increase in obesity rates, there is evidence of an increase in health problems going right along with the increase in weight. Once primarily the chronic diseases of adults, illnesses like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease are now appearing in increasing numbers of children and adolescents.
Now, a study published in Science Daily in March, 2011, shows that overweight adolescents might be at risk for weakened bones. This is a time when the physical body should be at its best, with strong bones and good overall health. But, researchers have found that overweight teens have less bone mass, indicating less bone strength when compared to normal weight peers.
Additional health problems include an increase in blood pressure, high fat levels in the blood and increased belly fat. This fat around the middle seems to be closely linked to the presence of lower density bones, heart disease and diabetes in the same way it is in adults. Researchers feel that lack of vigorous exercise is more to blame than calories. Medical research shows that strenuous exercise makes the bones release a hormone that reduces many of the obesity related health risks. Yes, that's correct, the bones act as endocrine organs, releasing regulating hormones. Researchers theorize that decreased bone mass in adolescence will lead to increased problems with osteoporosis and bone fractures in later years.
Medical researchers are seeing increases in obesity rates in all age groups including infants. Children who are obese in their pre-teen years have an 80 percent chance of being obese adults. These numbers are worrisome as they indicate a future rapid increase in many of the chronic diseases already plaguing the United States and much of the developed world.
In addition to heart disease, breathing problems, insulin resistance and weak bones, sleep problems are also caused by being overweight. This further exacerbates health problems, as the body repairs and heals during normal sleep.
So, what can be done? Families can make a group effort at learning more about healthy lifestyles and implementing some changes that support good health and optimal weight. This starts at the dinner table and extends throughout the day. Look for foods high in health benefits and low in calories like fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish. Avoid processed and packaged foods and stay away from fast food entirely. It may take a while to adjust, but an apple with peanut butter is an infinitely more healthful and delicious snack than salt and fat laden fries.
When it comes to weight loss plans for teenagers and everyone in your family, you can talk about ways to increase activity, even if it is just rotating walking the family dog through each member of the family. Try some easy sports, get a pool membership this summer, join a gym, and make it a goal to increase activity rates every day. Together you can all become more fit, more healthy and happy as the pounds are lost.
Train Hard! Drop the Pounds!
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