Out of the entire population of obese individuals in America, it is alarmingly estimated that between sixteen and thirty-three percent are teenagers.
Obesity as a medical problem is easy to recognize, yet is one of the more difficult to treat. It is a contributing cause of approximately 300,000 deaths every year due to additional health problems that typically accompany excess weight. Devastating as is the occurrence of death, that, however is not even the sum total of difficulties facing overweight teens.
Obese teenagers, because of their size, may additionally find themselves misfits in social settings. Not having a comfortable desk in school and not being able to enjoy time on the playground like other children could only be the start in the pre-teen years.
Other things such as the cruel comments of peers can hurt even more and have long lasting emotional consequences.
Longer-term associated health problems related to obesity are typically of far less concern to overweight teens than their immediate problem of the teasing and taunting they frequently endure in the community and school. They already feel badly enough about their size without others constantly reminding them. Additionally, it is not uncommon for obese young females to struggle with depression on top of everything else.
Surveys conducted with obese teens to rate their own quality of life consistently reflect low scores – even some younger cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy don’t feel as miserable as do overweight teens! Other studies reveal that obese teenagers have a high incidence of low self-esteem and consequently tend to isolate themselves from others. Without some form of positive intervention, a very high percentage of them will likely not move on to college, won’t marry and will later succumb to live the duration of their lives in a low socio-economic status.
A 2001 study by Latner and Stunkard further reinforces the findings of previous studies, warning then that the problem was escalating – and is little better today. The study, a replicate of a 1961 study on the impact of obesity, revealed after teenagers were asked to rank their disapproval of various drawings presented to them, that they listed a sketch of an obese child as the most disdained figure. So obesity in youth becomes a spiraling problem. Heavy teenagers not only need the assistance of medical practitioners to help alleviate associated health problems, but additionally require psychological care.
Parents who plan a weight-loss program for an obese teenager need to consider options that include counseling. This type of care will help prevent their children from becoming unfulfilled adults later by developing a healthy sense of self-worth during their younger years.
Four Big Fat Lies That Teens Believe about Body Image
Teenage boys and girls are affected by obesity. Unfortunately, it is mostly the girls that are buying into some big fat lies that can hurt them emotionally and can also cause physical harm.
These big fat lies have been around for a while, and are kept alive by gullible consumers who listen to dubious marketers. We will go over these big fat lies one by one, in no particular order.
Big Fat Lie: You absolutely have to look like your friends.
The Truth: No you don’t! Listen up here! In some circumstances, it is physically impossible for two people to be the same size. Your friend may be able to eat anything and everything and never gain an ounce, but that my friend is genetics. I know it stinks that you can’t eat half what she does without gaining weight, but that’s life. It is far more important for you to be healthy than it is to fit in your friend’s plaid skirt. Trying to “get down to her size” will only make you crazy, so be healthy and be happy.
Big Fat Lie: Only losers can’t diet their way down to a super model thin body.
The Truth: (add buzzer sound here)! Wrong! Are you aware of the fact that super models are thinner than ninety-eight percent of the female population? Look, everyone has certain genes, which will determine their body type. It was written in stone before you were born. No single body type is better than the others, so you’re stressing out over something you can’t control. Less than 2% of the population that has the super model look, which means that there are actually very few people who look like that.
Big Fat Lie: Boys like only the incredibly thin girls.
The Truth: While it may be true that teen guys like to gawk at the super thin girls, it is another matter altogether when it comes to dating. Most teenage guys are petrified of “very pretty” girls, and feel more than a little awkward around them during the teenage years. In fact, they feel far more comfortable with regular girls.
Big Fat Lie: How a person looks is the only thing that matters, not how they get there.
The Truth: This is what is known as faulty logic. The most important thing is that you are healthy. If you are so concentrated on attaining a certain look that it is adversely affecting your health, then you are punishing yourself for absolutely no reason. Think about this for a moment. If you are doing something you know isn’t good for you simply to look a certain way, don’t you realize it will catch up to you? If you abuse your body, it will only take it for so long, and then it is payback time.
Don’t measure your self worth by another person’s standards. Endeavor to stay healthy and fit by maintaining a proper diet with plenty of exercise. Be healthy, be happy and most of all – be you!
How To Positively Impact Your Daughter’s Self Image
There is nothing in the world that compares to the life of a modern teen female. They are constantly bombarded with images of impossibly thin young women who are taunted as the ‘perfect woman’ before their bodies are even finished with the growth cycle. This leads many of them to try and fit into the mold that has been set before and above them.
If you are a parent with a daughter who is less than happy with her body, then there are a few things you can do to help her get through the awkward and confusing years to come. The most important thing you can do is to be an emotionally supportive parent and be there when she needs you most. Allowing her to know that she can turn to you when she feels the need without the fear that you will be judgmental or trivialize her feelings will go a long way in building a trusting relationship.
One of the hang-ups that parents and their teens get caught up in is the type of clothes that your teen wants to wear. During the teenage years, clothes are a way for teens to express themselves. If you are too critical of the clothing she wears, she may get the wrong idea, and believe that it is her that you disapprove of, and not the clothes. This does not mean that you have to let your child wear inappropriate clothing. What it does mean is that when it comes to clothes, if they are clean and the child is not inappropriately exposed, allow your teen some leeway in what she would like to wear.
Compromise is very important in any relationship, and you can help your teen earn this important skill early if you exhibit the willingness to do so. If you want them to wear a certain type of clothing to church or other functions, then let your teen wear something they like when it really isn’t an issue.
If you have more than one child, you must be very careful never to compare one to the other. Remember that we are each different no matter how closely related we may be. Everything from eating habits to the way we react to certain circumstances will be different from one another. If you compare one child to another, you are giving that child a feeling of not measuring up to her sibling, which is not emotionally healthy. If your daughter has a tendency to do things you do not allow, explain it to her in clear and non-judgmental terms instead of saying anything about (or comparing her to) her siblings.
One of the things that parents are always concerned about is the food that our children consume. Be aware that your child will go through eating phases that you may not particularly care for, but it is completely normal. When it comes to food, the best thing that you can do is to offer healthy food at mealtime and provide snacks that are not junk food. Be certain that you maintain a healthy eating regimen as well, for you can bet that your teen will take notice of your eating habits.
Lastly, be sure to provide your family with plenty of exercise by scheduling regular family activities. By teaching your teen to stay active, you can help her stay healthier. Swimming, biking, skating and tennis are excellent exercise activities. Try to pick some activities that are available year round so that during the winter months your family still gets their exercise.
What do you do if you’re a Mom of a teenage daughter or son and you too believe lies about your own body and have a low self image yourself?
What if you are also caught up in an eating disorder such as a diet-starvation cycle?
I know about the heartache of having to set the example and be a good role model, but barely hanging-on for dear life. The guilt is almost unbearable!
Listen: You can become that role model you want to be. You can have something to give to your children if they too get caught up in a low self image or a struggle with food:
I have written a 12 Week Online Program especially for moms, like you and I, who care enough to change.
Week 4 of the above mentioned course focuses in on obtaining a Healthy Self Image. We look at what the Bible and the experts have to say about self image. We also take a look at the lies in the media that opposes this concept?
Please don’t wait, the years that we have to make a difference in our children’s lives pass very quickly. If you’re a Mom, you already know this : So why don’t you try out the first week for free and see if you and your daughter might benefit from it.
From a fellow Mom who understands all too well…
You can get help for yourself or a loved one through my 12 Week Online Study Course. I’ve compiled this course from my own experience with food struggles, insight and understanding I’ve gained through counseling ladies in my support groups, Biblical principals, as well as material I’ve gathered by well-known Christian authors, counselors, and doctors. This study is jam-packed with information, practical guide lines and honest testimonies.
Click on the image below to learn more about the 12 Week Online Program
Read my story. Click on the image below to download my ebook for free