by Gabriele Amersbach, Prebiotin Science Writer
It’s not just the bullying and social rejection that teens who are obese face. Obesity has a profound effect on your child’s long-term health. While obesity rates among children and adults soar, researchers are providing ample evidence that serious illnesses linked to obesity, like heart disease and diabetes, are also on the increase.
As former first lady Michelle Obama stated in her “Let’s Move” initiative:
–Let’s Move launch announcement, 2/9/2010
–Let’s Move launch announcement, 2/9/2010
Encouraging exercise and better eating has been the gold standard approach to reducing spiraling obesity rates. Studies have shown that diet and exercise have an impact on the mix of bacteria in our gut, or microbiome. A healthier mix means less obesity, more energy, and better health, for teens and adults. Studies with prebiotic fiber like Prebiotin show that boosting fiber can support healthy weight in all ages and promote better long-term health.
According to CDC statistics, about 18.5% of children from 2 to 19 (or 13.7 million children) are obese.
What is obesity?
Your child is considered obese if they weigh at least 10% more than what is recommended for their height and body type. Check the CDC’s BMI Percentile Calculator for Child and Teen to assess your child’s weight.
CDC statistics indicate that obesity rates can start as young as age two and increase rapidly into the teen years. Obesity prevalence is
♦ 9% among 2 to 5-year-olds,
♦ 4% among 6 to 11-year-olds,
♦ 6% among 12 to 19-year-olds.
Hispanic and African American populations have the highest prevalence of obesity.
Studies show obese children between 10 and 13 have an 80% chance of becoming obese adults. However, even overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults unless they develop healthier eating and exercise patterns.
Why do children become overweight or obese?
Children reflect the family eating and lifestyle patterns. Although there can be many reasons for obesity in the family, from medical, to psychological, to financial reasons, the sad fact is that if one parent is obese, there is a 50% chance their child will also be obese.
Your child may also overeat because of the following:
- Low self-esteem
- Family separation and divorce
- Peer problems
- Lack of exercise
Less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by physical problems. However, medications like antibiotics and steroids can make changes in the gut microbiome that can lead to obesity.
Depression and Overeating
Since depression is linked to overeating for all ages, it may be helpful to examine why so many teens are depressed. About 20% of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood, but only 30% of those are being treated for it.
The lack of treatment has resulted in sobering suicide rate for young people ages 15 to 24. A teen takes his or her own life every 100 minutes according to suicide.org.
The reasons are a complex mix of social, cultural, and psychological factors. Experts agree that parents may be raising their children with unrealistic expectations about always feeling good. Some have poor coping skills in an increasingly stressful environment; technology brings all the ills of the world in graphic detail to anyone’s cell phone with just a touch.
We are also exposed to higher levels of polluted air and water sources.
The Impact of Teen Obesity on Lifelong Health
Obesity in the teen years sets the groundwork for a lifetime of ill health. Common health concerns leading from early obesity include higher risk for heart disease, joint pain, sleep apnea, and an increase in type 2 diabetes.
When Teens Develop Diabetes
No more is type 2 diabetes the “adult onset” form of diabetes. A major study to assess diabetes trends in youth under age 20 found more cases of diabetes each year. From 2002 to 2012, the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes increased 4.8% each year. Cases of type 1 diabetes in youth increased by about 1.8 % each year.
Prediabetes is also on the rise. According to a 2019 CDC study, nearly 1 in 5 adolescents aged 12-18 years, and 1 in 4 young adults aged 19-34 years are living with prediabetes.
What can we do to keep our teens healthy?
Children who play outdoors and have exercise as a natural part of the day when they are younger are less at risk for diabetes, have better general health, and make better social connections.
Diet also starts in the home. While the diet of teenagers is harder to control, how families eat when children are younger help teens make better choices as they become more independent.
Some basics according to Johns Hopkins Healthy Eating During Adolescence website:
- Design meals to include generous portions of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more fish and chicken, limit red meat, and decrease use of butter and heavy gravies.
- Eat fruit or vegetables for a snack.
- Drink water rather than soda.
- Limit sweets.
- Avoid foods heavy in saturated fat. For example, limit meat and dairy products like beef, pork, lamb, butter, cheese, cream, egg yolks, palm oil.
Why add Prebiotin® Prebiotic Fiber supplement to my teen’s diet?
Prebiotin has been used in numerous research studies with adults as well as children and infants. These studies show that regular supplementation with a prebiotic fiber like Prebiotin can help your children control their appetite and weight and feel fuller.
Maintaining a healthy weight: For example, a 2017 Canadian study, with younger children (ages 7 to 12) who were obese or overweight received Prebiotin mixed with water in their water bottle for 16 weeks.
Based on these findings, the scientists estimated that children who had taken the prebiotic fiber would gain about 6.6 pounds per year, in the healthy range. In the placebo group, they estimated a weight gain of 17.6 pounds, triple the healthy weight increase in a growing child.
Fighting depression: If your teen is feeling depressed or anxious, the answer may also be in their digestive system. The gut microbiome—the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that live in our intestinal tract—release chemicals that send signals to the brain and impact how our brains function.
If we have a healthy mix of bacteria, the signals sent to the brain allow us to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. A microbiome with more undesirable bacteria is linked to depression and a wide range of mental and physical health conditions.
To bring the gut back into balance, a healthy lifestyle, with plenty of exercise, good sleep, and a fiber-rich diet is great start. And if your teen is only willing to make one small change, adding Prebiotin to a favorite daily food can help to nurture the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Reducing diabetes risk: Even the risk of diabetes can be reduced with daily supplementation of Prebiotin. A 2018 study at Rutgers found that patients with type 2 diabetes can lower inflammation, improve management of blood sugar levels, and have better weight control by taking prebiotic fiber.
– Greg Cooper, Prebiotin Director of Product and Business Development*
– Greg Cooper, Prebiotin Director of Product and Business Development*
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