It only seems natural to consider the psychological effects of teen obesity and how it is affecting our youth. Not too long ago it would be unheard of to be having this discussion. The child obesity issue worldwide has received so much attention it seems appropriate to consider what is going on in their head. How is their weight issue effecting them emotionally? It’s what we don’t see in our children that is of most concern. We can easily see their day to day routines but what underlining psychological effects of teen obesity don’t we see?
It has been perceived that young children who are obese will grow out of it or they are just carrying “baby fat”. In some cases this is true and they do grow out of it, but what if they don’t. It’s a known fact that kids can be mean and bully. Children who are teased about their weight are more apt to have poor body image, low self-esteem, and symptoms of depression. Everyone wants to have friends but sometimes the obese teen feels isolated and lonely. Their self esteem is low and they use food as their comfort zone, which is usually high in fat, sugar, and calories. The isolation makes them less active so exercise is compromised. Because of peer pressure the psychological effects of teen obesity affects their overall health which can lead to more serious medical problems. The teen years are all about growing up, being more independent, and socialization. Peer pressure in teenagers is a major issue whether they have a weight problem or not , which is why teasing obese teens can be psychologically devastating.
Peer pressure is the hub of the psychological effects of teen obesity. The spin off is problems in school and missing too much school. Obese teens are absent from school more often than non obese teens. Some will miss school or skip classes to avoid ridicule and others due to medical complications associated with being obese. Behavioral and learning problems develop because they feel depressed and socially unaccepted . Obese teens have an equal right to education as non obese teens but the taunting effects them emotionally and it’s easier to avoid than confront. They are missing out on their education because of the psychological effects of teen obesity.
It appears clear that the psychological effects of teen obesity have the potential to be carried into adulthood. Including in some cases anxiety and obsessive compulsive behavior. An alarming number of obese teens grow up to be obese adults, although it doesn’t have to be this way. Once the weight problem is cured and their physical appearance has improved; their self esteem and body image will be restored. We must be careful not to ignore the psychological effects of teen obesity that they may still have bottled up inside.
Triggers To Watch For
- Your obese teen has less energy or interests and is hesitant to participate in social relationships or other activities;
- Your obese teen appears increasingly sad, lonely, angry or withdrawn.
- Your obese teen has few friends.
- Your obese teen has thoughts of causing harm to him/herself or others.
- Your obese teen is obsessed with eating.
- Your obese teen sleeps too much or not enough.
- Your obese teen is reluctant to go to school.
There are steps that parents can do to help ease the psychological stress that results from teen obesity. Engage your teen in open dialog about their eating habits . Many times teens over eat because they are depressed. Openly communicating with your obese child about the problem will allow you to work a plan that is attainable. The good news is with proper nutrition, exercise, and a real good diet plan teens can overcome obesity and live a full normal life.