Obesity is a problem teens must confront as they seek acceptance from their peers and move through society.
Many obese teens are confronted with bullying problems due to their weight, most often in middle schools. This leads to low self-esteem, low morale and loss of motivation.
While speaking on the psychological effects of obesity, Petals Rainey, Leesville’s psychologist, discussed several issues. “[Obesity] affects [peoples’] emotional state. A lot of times when you find a lot of individuals who have weight issues, they have emotional difficulties, coping skill, some difficulties with social skills. You know, they might be getting picked on, might not [be] making friends. It definitely has a psychological impact.”
Often, a student’s grades and social interactions will suffer once obesity becomes a problem. “It all goes back to self esteem,” Rainey said. “The short term effects are that it could affect you academically, of course. Because if you’re having difficulties at school, socially, then you’re not going to come to school, wanna come to school, and do everything you can to stay out of school, so you know, that could start as a short term problem that could morph into a long term problem. Whenever you have issues with self esteem, it’s always a critical issue.”
The major issue with obesity (besides obvious health concerns) is the low self esteem that can develop. Although it is often played down as unimportant, self worth is an important factor to succeeding both in high school and in the world.
There are many factors to consider when an individual is confronted with obesity, with obesity often leading to extreme issues such as anxiety, depression, and other psychological states.
To navigate through and address all of the effects of obesity, there needs to be a thorough understanding of how it impacts all aspects of a person’s life.
ASK THE DOCTOR: Facts about Obesity (still trying to decide what to do with this)
To learn more about the physical effects of obesity and why it is such an issue in this modern world, Suzanne Tadlock, Leesville health instructor, provided a website on obesity and a few tips on how to fight it.
“My personal opinion is that with the advancement of technology and being a product of the ‘instant’ gratification generation, obesity will continue to be an issue on the rise,” she said. “Also, it is more economical for many families, on a budget, to eat products that are high in fat and sugar then to eat healthy.”
Tadlock reasons that one of the more prevalent causes of obesity in today’s society is the availability of fast food in every city, with a McDonald’s on practically every street corner. “The fast food industry and $1 menus make it more economical to feed a family of 4 then buying fruits and vegetables that could cost twice as much,” she said.
In a recent study done by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), it was found that 64.9% of adults 18 and over were overweight in North Carolina, with 27.8% of adults found to be obese. In high schools alone, 14.6% were overweight and 13.4% were obese. That’s a total of 28% of teenagers in North Carolina with weight problems.
With obesity being a major issue, Tadlock takes her job as physical education specialist very seriously. “Obesity in children can be either due to their lifestyle or family history of obesity and when unhealthy eating gets combined with inactive lifestyle gaining weight is often inevitable,” she said. “That is why as a Physical Educator it is important to incorporate cardiovascular programs into our daily class time.”
Another major contributor to childhood (and therefore teen) obesity is the lack of physical exercise in the elementary and middle schools. “…at the elementary school level, students only meet with the Physical Education Specialist once a week for approximately 40 minutes,” she said. “This is not enough time to combat the many issues that foster obesity.”
What does it do to the body? According to the Stanford University Website, there are a plethora of health issues associated with obesity, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, joint problems (such as osteoarthritis), cancer, and metabolic syndrome, just to name a few.
These health issues can lead to even more health problems, all adding up to become a plethora of disease and pain.
THE DIAGNOSIS? Obesity Must Be Dealt With!
With all of this information, one can make the easy conclusion that obesity is a prominent issue in today’s society. It is an issue that must be dealt with!
One important way to help people suffering from obesity is to encourage them to improve, and to be nice about it; obese people typically suffer from low self esteem and low sense of self.
Some of the signs that someone is suffering psychologically from obesity are, “not thinking that they’re attractive, and again, that ability to navigate in the social realm. They might be excluded from activities where they are expected to be thin, such as cheerleading, etc,” Rainey said. “So I think some signs would definitely be low self esteem and overly critical about themselves and their appearance.”
By boosting their pride and helping them to accept their bodies and how they are, people and students who suffer from obesity will not be so concerned with their appearances. Rainey indicated that this, in itself, will improve their grades, as well as their way of life.