Obesity Among Teenagers: Reasons They’re a Problem for Parents

Obese man with beer mug
  • Teenage obesity is a growing issue in the US, with 1 in 5 teens affected.
  • Sedentary lifestyles, fast-food consumption, lack of sleep, body image issues, and mental health can all contribute to obesity.
  • Parents should encourage physical activity, model healthy eating habits, limit fast food, and ensure adequate sleep.
  • Dancing classes and meal prepping can help teenagers stay active and consume healthy meals.
  • Weight loss support groups can provide motivation and accountability for teens on a weight loss journey.

As progressive parents, you believe in giving your children the world–healthy food, excellent medical care, and an environment where they can thrive. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, many teenagers today face an obesity epidemic, and as parents, you’re struggling to help them. Obesity is a problem you can’t ignore, and you need to take steps as a community to help your teenagers stay healthy.

Teenage Obesity in the U.S.

The demographics with the highest obesity rates are teenagers and early adults. It’s estimated that about 1 in 5 teenagers between 12 and 19 are obese. This should be a cause for alarm, as obesity puts young adults at an increased risk for many health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, stroke, certain types of cancer, and depression.

What Causes Teenage Obesity?

Many factors can contribute to teenage obesity, such as a lack of physical activity, poor diet, and genetics. Here’s a deeper look into that:

Sedentary Lifestyles

One of the biggest reasons we’re seeing such an increase in obesity among teenagers is due to a sedentary lifestyle. Teens today spend more and more time sitting in front of screens–whether it’s TV, video games, or social media.

Children and teenagers need physical activity; without it, they’re more likely to gain weight. As parents, you need to encourage your teenagers to get active, whether it’s through sports, outdoor activities, or even just walking and exploring their neighborhood.

Lots of Fast food

Fast-Food Consumption

Another major contributor to obesity among teenagers is fast-food consumption. Fast food is often high in calories, fat, and sugar. Teenagers are often drawn to fast food because it’s cheap, quick, and accessible.

As parents, it’s essential to educate your teenagers about the importance of healthy eating and encourage them to make healthier choices. You should model healthy eating habits, involve your teenagers in meal planning and preparation, and limit the fast food available in your homes.

Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep is another contributing factor to obesity among teenagers. Sleep is critical to people’s overall health and vital to weight regulation. Studies have shown that teenagers who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight. As parents, you need to ensure your teenagers get the recommended amount of sleep each night and encourage healthy sleep habits.

Body Image Issues

Body image issues are rampant among teenagers today and can contribute to obesity as well. Many teenagers are unhappy with their bodies and turn to food as a coping mechanism. As parents, you need to help your teenagers develop a positive body image, encourage them to be active, and focus on their overall health rather than their weight.

Stressed teenager at home

Mental Health

Finally, mental health issues can also contribute to obesity among teenagers. Stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to emotional eating and unhealthy habits. As parents, you must be aware of your teenager’s mental health and seek help if necessary. You also need to teach your teenagers healthy coping mechanisms and help them learn to manage stress healthily.

Proactive Tips to Help Teenagers Lose Weight

You can take various steps to help your teenagers lose weight and stay healthy. Here are a few tips:


One fun way to get your teenagers moving is to encourage them to take a dancing class. Dancing can be an excellent way for teens to stay active and burn calories while having fun! It burns about the same calories as jogging, so it’s a fantastic exercise option for teenagers. Consider enrolling them in a dance summer camp for complete immersion. These camps often feature structured dance classes, healthy meals, and outings.

Meal Prepping

Meal prepping is a great way to encourage teenagers to eat healthy and stay on track. As adults, you can plan healthy meals for the week and involve your teenagers in preparing. This will help them learn about nutrition and how to make healthier choices regarding food.

Encourage Healthy Snacks

When your teenager gets hungry between meals, encourage them to reach for healthy snacks instead of junk food. Try to have healthy options in your pantry and fridge so your teens can make healthier choices when snacking.

Support Group

Finally, a weight loss support group may also benefit your teenagers. Remembering your teenagers are not alone in their weight loss journey is essential. A support group can give them the motivation and accountability they need to stay on track.

As parents, you want the best for your teenagers, and helping them maintain a healthy weight is essential. Obesity rates are increasing among teenagers, so it’s important to take steps to address it. By encouraging physical activity, teaching healthy eating habits, and providing support, you can help your teenagers stay healthy and reach their weight loss goals.

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