Study shows teen obesity rising, percentage of teens trying to lose weight falling

Research reveals troubling trends in teenage obesity


DETROIT – A recent study found troubling trends in teen obesity. Researchers said teen obesity is rising, but the percentage of teenagers trying to lose weight is declining.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 14 million children and teenagers in the United States are now considered obese. That increases their risk of having health problems and their odds of being obese as adults.

Fewer people are attempting to make changes for a variety of reasons.

As society grows, there has been more acceptance of different body sizes. That's a good thing for many reasons, but it has also created less motivation to make changes when changes are needed for health purposes.

A new study looked at three groups of people between the ages of 16 and 19 during three different decades.

In surveys taken between 1988 and 2014, the percentage of teens who were overweight and obese climbed from 22 percent to 34 percent. At the same time, the number of teenagers who reported weight-loss efforts declined from about 34 percent to 27 percent.

Dr. Leslie Heinberg, of the Cleveland Clinic, said that unlike 30 years ago, today's teenagers have much more information at their fingertips.

"There is a lot of diet information out in the world, on the internet, on social media," Heinberg said. "The vast majority of it is not helpful. The vast majority of it sets people up for weight re-gain, sets people up for developing bad habits."

Instead, Heinberg recommends increasing activity, eating out less frequently and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Experts said pushing teens to lose weight is rarely helpful. They suggest focusing the conversation on health habits instead of a specific number on the scale.

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