The Obesity Epidemic in Teens


Grace Ryser, Contributor

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the rates of obesity among adolescents have quadrupled in the past 30 years. From 1980 to 2012, the rate of obesity has risen from 5% to 21%.”  This increase is a very significant issue, as obesity is the easiest disease to identify, but the most difficult for which treatment can be provided. The obesity rates of children in America are at their highest point ever, and many are working to fix this issue.

Obesity occurs when a person weighs greater than what is considered to be a healthy weight for a given height. This problem is caused not just by avoidance of healthy foods; there are a number of other causes. Some of these include: overeating, binge eating, lack of exercise, medical illnesses, and genetics. Obesity comes along with the high risks of “high blood pressure, breathing problems, a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes,” and much more. Since obesity rates are at an all-time high, there is much reason for concern.

Unfortunately, America is the leader when it comes to obesity rates–not a title most counties would wish to hold. Online sources state: “The obesity rate for American adults (aged 15 and over) came in at a whopping 38.2%, which puts the birthplace of the hamburger and the Cronut at the top of the heftiest-nations-in-the-world rankings, according to an updated survey from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”  This problem begins in tween and teenager years, and carries over into adulthood. However, many of these patterns can be corrected.

The most common causes of teenage obesity are unhealthy eating habits and a lack of exercise. As fast food in America becomes a larger portion of a person’s diet, the rates of obesity are guaranteed to rise. A junior, Matt Raseta says, “It’s concerning that people are too lazy to  cook their own meals and resort to fast food instead.” Another student, Dean Esmail, a junior, agrees. “I see a lot of students resorting to fast food. I don’t think that they should keep up with those habits though, they’re just harming themselves.” Lack of exercise is not a favorite option for many teens either.  One HHS football player explains that since he is forced to weight train, it helps to keep him in shape for the season; however, when exercise is optional for most teens, it’s not a favorite choice. Negative habits can be corrected, and it’s vital that teens start now if they don’t want to spend their adulthood years riddled with disease and mobility issues.