Young Girl Reading

More Teens Trying to Lose Weight, Mostly DIY

The number of U.S. adults actively trying to lose weight peaked in 2004 at 62 percent. Ever since, that number’s been dropping. In 2018, according to Gallup, it was down to 54 percent. But the trend for teens is headed in the opposite direction. In 2010, between 16 and 19 years of age, 24 percent of teens tried to lose weight. New data from CDC tells us that number rose to 38 percent in 2016.

Though childhood obesity has risen, one thing hasn’t changed. Health professionals still have little to offer these youth who are concerned about their weight.

Mostly DIY, Mostly Exercise

The methods these young people tried were all do-it-yourself. Exercise was the most reported method – 83 percent mentioned it. “Drank a lot of water” came next. Back in 2010, the number one thing was “eating less,” reported by 72 percent. But in 2016, only 49 percent said they ate less to lose weight. Maybe that has something to do with dieting getting a bad rap these days.

Cause for Concern

Sara Armstrong, a pediatric obesity obesity expert at Duke University, sees cause for concern in these numbers:

There has really not been a shift in the social stigma and weight bias against people who are heavy. Teenagers experience this, maybe even more so than adults, because they are still developing their image of self.

Because youth obesity rates are still rising, increased efforts to lose weight are not translating to weight loss. It should be a clear signal to all of us that we need to think about the systems and environmental-level drivers of obesity, and recognize that individuals won’t solve the problem alone.

In other words, despite all the talk of concern about obesity in children and youth, we don’t have effective systems for addressing it. Prevention efforts have been unsuccessful to date. Even for youth with severe obesity, treatment is largely unavailable. Even where it is available, the options are limited.

We can do better than this. We must provide better care and develop more effective prevention strategies. The health of a whole generation is at stake.

Click here for the latest report from CDC and here for the 2010 data. For further perspective, click here.

Young Girl Reading, pastel by Mary Cassatt / WikiArt

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July 18, 2019

3 Responses to “More Teens Trying to Lose Weight, Mostly DIY”

  1. July 18, 2019 at 6:44 am, Eileen said:

    Do these stats include normal weight teens who diet?

  2. July 18, 2019 at 9:56 am, Allen Browne said:

    The systems to help the children with obesity are broken. They are based on “eat less and exercise more”. They should be based on science and physiology. They need to recognize the public, the health care providers, and the patients are not being taught the science and physiology. The disease of obesity is a dysfunction of homeostasis of body composition. The system is complex and the disease comes in many forms. How to prevent the development of obesity is basically unknown so far. However how to treat the disease has many tools and options currently available. We need to fix the system.