That 75% of overweight and obese teenagers want to lose weight is the good news. The bad news is that some have rather peculiar ideas about how to best go about it.
Aware Of The Weight Problem…
A report from Philadelphia examined 44,000 high school students, asking them about lifestyle habits such as smoking, how often and how much they exercised per week, how much soda they drank per day and how many hours per day they spend playing video games.
14% of the 44,000 were obese, and of these 3/4ths said they wanted to lose weight. Which is quite good; other research has shown that adults are much more apt at deceiving themselves about their weight problem.
…Clueless What To Do?
However, those teens wanting to lose weight also reported smoking more often. Girls who said they spend one hour per day exercising also consumed more regular soda, while obese boys reported more days with physical inactivity, yet said they spend three hours per day in front of video and computer games.
Clare Lenhart, the study’s lead researcher, told her university’s newspaper:
From a health education standpoint, finding out that three-quarters of students who are obese want to lose weight is exactly what we want. But the behavior they’re engaging in is puzzling; it’s counterproductive to what they’re trying to do. For example, among the girls who are exercising, they may not realize that one soda could undo that 30-minute walk they just took.
Awareness Is Not All
Lenhart goes on to suggest that these teens now are picked up from where they are. Pediatricians, for example, should not only ask if a teen is trying to lose weight, but also how he goes about it.
Indeed it looks like the efforts spend on making adolescents aware of weight problems work. Now we need to give them the tools to do something about.
Picture courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt.