SMART & LIGHT
TEENAGE OBESITY: WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
Weight gain in adolescence and the anguish of the overweight teen
Adolescence is a time of great physical transformation, thus making it a critical period in people’s lives. The changes we go through during this phase often push us to no longer accept ourselves as readily as we once did and perhaps even to go so far as to truly reject our bodies.
For teenage girls, adolescence is a time when they become conscious of their femininity and the effect it has on the way they are perceived by others around them. Particularly by men, whose riveting stares can be embarrassing and sometimes even frightening. To ease their discomfort, many girls will make a conscious or unconscious choice to hide their curves by gaining weight and changing their body makeup. Others may go to the other extreme, rejecting food altogether and becoming anorexic; another way of eliminating their feminine curves.
For boys in their teen years, adolescence is a time they become conscious of their masculine power. They try to adjust themselves mentally so as not to disappoint which can lead to all sorts of excesses, compulsions, and even addictions.
Adolescence is also a time of protest, opposition, and non-acceptance of the current environment. The young person’s confrontational attitude and total rejection of adult guidance makes it difficult for others to intervene and help them through this volatile time.
For those who are already suffering from teenage obesity, two major problems are likely to arise: social rejection among their peers and love interests, as well as successive failures to lose the excess weight. Therefore, the risk becomes that these young people gravitate towards a mode of self-destruction; constant deprivations lead to aberrations in their eating behavior, such as binge eating, which, in turn, aggravates the obesity problem.
Personally, having been an obese child myself, I entered adolescence with existing problems and bad habits that were linked to my weight. I should say that, for me, the situation was no worse than what I had gone through as a child. In hindsight, I don’t believe I suffered any more during adolescence than in childhood, unless you count my romantic setbacks. However, it was at the family level that things began to deteriorate. I was angry with my parents for their inability to help me get through my suffering; especially for not recognizing how utterly miserable I was and for not being able to help me heal.
FACTORS CAUSING TEENAGE OBESITY:
Adolescents, the ideal target for our consumer-driven society…
Adolescents are an easy target for our consumerist economy. Given that they generate a larger percentage of this consumption than any other age group, advertising is programmed to better satisfy them. Today, to our disgrace, we even manufacture chocolate and strawberry-flavored cigarettes to encourage these young people to take up smoking! It’s the same with other advertising messages they watch throughout the day. On a daily basis, slick marketing campaigns encourage them to take up all manner of bad habits and all food and behavioral addictions.
Teens are also the victims of the new methods of virtual exchange. Through new communications mediums such as the Internet, they are pushed into buying, one after the other, the countless video games that abound on the market as well the gadgets linked to these new technologies. In addition, they don’t even need to go shopping anymore to satisfy their desires; all they need to do is convince their parents to order it online or simply order it themselves. Today, online, we can order pizzas, soft drinks, candy… For today’s teens, even hanging out with the gang at the mall or on the corner has become useless and outdated.
The agro-alimentary industry, the culprit that’s responsible for creating these poisoned foods that teenagers are so fond of, then sells them the antidote: “miracle products” from the weight-loss industry! Teenage girls are the first to fall prey. Panicked by society’s impossible criteria of beauty, they buy into the myth of the perfectly anorexic body.
But, let’s get back to this imposed sedentary behavior. An obese teenager who perceives the outside world as a source of rejection is easily tempted to isolate himself from others with his innumerable gadgets and comfort food. For these young people, practicing some kind of sport is almost ridiculously out of place as this would force them to mix with the group which would make them feel even more uncomfortable.
How can we avoid temptation, find ourselves, and break these horrible habits that isolate us, and our children, from all notion of reality?
HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR TEEN LOSE WEIGHT?
The only way to convince a sullen teenager of anything is to open up a dialog, inspire trust and make use of humor. At Smart and Light, our supervisors and coaches have helped dozens of overweight and obese teens over the last twelve years by providing the encouragement these young people need to dedicate themselves to their transformation.
The Smart and Light E-learning program is another tool that is perfectly adapted to the lifestyle of today’s teenager. Behind the computer monitor, far away from any indiscreet looks, they can make the decision to change and to participate in their own transformation, in a manner that is both fun and meets their needs.