Teenage obesity was some sort of a reserve for the Western world but it’s now becoming a concern for developing countries – Kenya being one of them. The environmental agents, genetics and lifestyle play a major role in predisposing adolescents to obesity.
The Western cultures, which are more often seen as ‘superior’ and ‘classy’ by many people in the developing world is harmful. The irony of the whole scenario is the fact that as Africans strive to adopt the western way of life, the owners of the culture are busy avoiding it and opting for a more healthy and beneficial lifestyle. I won’t go into such lectures as to why? How? Which? What? I however have a four-point plan that can help reduce risk of obesity.
- 1. Exercise
This tip is turning into a cliche. Its importance does not however allow me to assume it. Exercises are very important in burning the extra calories and fats that accumulate in the body and lead to obesity. Doing a morning jog everyday is very useful in kick starting an adolescent’s day. Apart from burning the extra calories, exercises are vital in maintaining brain functions and muscle tones.
- 2. Turn off the Television
During the adolescent stage, many children become addicted to television. They can watch the television from morning to evening. This is however accompanied with snacking. It therefore presents a double threat. One, watching television day in day out means leading a sedentary life. Sedentary lifestyle encourages deposition of fats in the body. Secondly, many snacks enjoyed by adolescents are usually those that contain more calories and no nutrients. This therefore provides the body with extra calories that the body doesn’t need. The extra calories are therefore converted to fats and stored in the adipose tissues leading to development of obesity.
It’s therefore important for a parent to regulate the amount of time their teenage girls and boys spend in front of a television. The type of snacks eaten by these teenagers should also be monitored to ensure that they take healthy snacks. Avoid chips (fries) and sweets.
- 3. Drink water not soda
Carbonated drinks contain empty calories. They are, therefore, not good for the teenager. How many times have you bought a soda to quench your thirst? The manufacturers know that too and that’s why they develop flashy and irresistible advertising lines to sell.
When thirsty, avoid soda as a plague. Take water. Water is important to the body. It is important in regulating the body temperature, in cell functions and enzymatic reactions that ensure that the body performs normally. Eight glasses a day are enough and can be spread throughout the day to prevent the temptation of taking a soda.
- 4. Moderate what you eat
There is a saying that ‘a man is what he eats’… a teenager is what s/he eats. Moderation is an important aspect in maintaining weight and health. Ensure that the food proportions taken by the teenager are right for maintaining optimum growth. Essentially, carbohydrates should provide 55 – 60% of the energy needed in a day. Fats should follow with 25 – 30% and proteins provide 10 – 15% of the total kilo-calories.
It might be hard for one to provide the exact percentages if they do not have a background in nutrition. But estimation is allowed. When selecting fats, opt for those with plant origin
- Drop in Obesity: Why Antibiotics, Plastic, and Programs Might Matter (news.health.com)
- One in three primary school leavers is obese or overweight (guardian.co.uk)
- Estimation of Newborn Risk for Child or Adolescent Obesity: Lessons from Longitudinal Birth Cohorts (plosone.org)
- Fight fat: Don’t let our children become obese adults (bangordailynews.com)