Adolescent obesity has been on the rise for decades and is now considered one of the most pressing public health issues in the world. Studies have shown that female adolescents with obesity are reported to experience physical, reproductive, and behavioral ailments, causing both short- and long-term complications.
Experiencing these comorbidities in their teenage years heightens the chances of them carrying on into adulthood, thus, most healthcare professionals advise early intervention. This article examines the causes, signs, and treatments of obesity among adolescent girls.
Causes Of Obesity In Adolescent Girls
Obesity is a condition in which a person consumes more calories than they are able to burn.
There are several factors that contribute to obesity, like genetics, lifestyle, or medical conditions.
- Genetics: Genetic factors can increase the probability of a child developing obesity. If one parent is overweight, there is a 50% chance that the child will develop obesity. Conversely, if both parents are overweight, the child has an 80 percent chance of developing obesity. Even though obesity runs in the family, not every child who has a family history of obesity will develop it.
- Overeating: Our daily calorie intake depends on how much we eat and how much we burn. Eating more than you can expend means you have a calorie surplus, which your body stores as fat. If you overeat, it’s more likely that you’ll build up extra body fat. Eating high-fat, salty, or sugar-containing foods can trigger the release of hormones called dopamine in your brain that activate pleasure centers. Dopamine can then trigger your body to associate certain foods with feelings of pleasure. Eventually, this process can override your hunger regulation and make you eat for pleasure instead of hunger, leading to obesity.
- Lack of exercise: Another contributing factor to childhood obesity is a lack of physical activity. Exercise helps burn calories and aids in managing weight. Kids who don’t get enough exercise are more likely to gain weight as they don’t burn as many calories as others. Spending too much time watching television or playing video games can also contribute to obesity.
- Medical conditions: Hormonal disorders, like hypothyroidism or overactive adrenal glands, may result in obesity. Other medical conditions that have a risk of developing obesity are Cushing syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. Additionally, some medications, such as steroids, antidepressants, and medications for treating diabetes, epilepsy, and schizophrenia, can also increase the risk of developing obesity.
- Socioeconomic factors: The economic status of a person plays a significant role in the prevalence of obesity. People belonging to the low-income class are more likely to be overweight or obese as they have limited access to healthy foods that are affordable or lack safe places to exercise.
Symptoms Of Obesity In Teen Girls
Excess body fat is the main symptom of obesity. A BMI chart is used to estimate the level of obesity.
In addition to excess body weight, other common indicators of obesity in adolescent females are fatigue, sleep apnea, early puberty, constipation, Acanthosis nigricans, stretch marks on the hips, abdomen, and back, fat tissue deposits in the breast area, shortness of breath, dislocated hips, and increased sweating.
Treatment For Obesity For Adolescent Girls
Lifestyle management and medicinal treatments are the first steps in treating obesity. However, these conservative approaches have been found to be less effective in adolescents who are severely overweight or obese.
Considering the adverse effects of prolonged obesity and the inefficiency of these non-surgical options, doctors suggest surgical procedures in adolescents.
Ways To Manage Obesity:
- Avoid junk food: Although junk food tastes delicious, it contains unhealthy fats that are high in calories, sugar, and salt. Overconsumption of junk foods can lead to weight gain and impede weight loss.
- Follow a healthy diet: Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for the growth and development of adolescents. While deciding on the diet plan, it is important to consider the nutritional needs of the child and the food options available to meet those needs. It is recommended to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein-rich foods, and healthy fats in their diet. These food sources are not just nutritious, but they can also help you lose weight.
- Manage portions: Controlling the portion size is another useful suggestion to keep in mind when trying to lose weight. Make sure that you are aware of the recommended daily calorie intake for someone of your age, sex, and height, and monitor your caloric consumption. Eating smaller meals can help reduce the overall number of calories consumed.
- Get physically active: Exercise has been found to be beneficial in weight reduction and weight management as it increases metabolic rate, thereby aiding in the burning of calories. Regular exercise can strengthen your bones and help build muscles. At a minimum, teens are said to do half an hour of exercise three to five days a week.
- Get help from experts: If your daughter is severely obese or facing health issues from weight gain, it is always recommended to seek professional help. Doctors and dietitians can help the parents in charting healthy diet plans, and medications in suppressing the illness and maintaining a healthy weight.
Genetics may play a role in the prevalence of obesity among adolescents, however, the primary contributing factors are poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. Hence, regular exercise and healthy eating habits are critical to maintaining your teen’s weight.
The above-mentioned methods can be followed to manage or lose weight. Parents are advised to assist and guide their daughters in their weight loss journey. Also, seek medical help when the situation goes overboard.