More young people who are overweight aren’t trying to lose weight, according to new research highlighting how this trend compromises future opportunities to prevent the next obese generation.
Researchers were concerned over a previous study that found fewer overweight and obese adults were trying to lose weight and wanted to see if the same attitudes were being instilled in young people.
Looking at data over 26 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers from Georgia Southern University found increasing rates of overweight and obesity among 16- to 19-year-olds but a decline in the percentage of adolescents who had tried to lose weight.
“With more than one-third of adolescents having overweight or obesity, it is cognitively difficult to view overweight as abnormal,” the authors wrote. “More adolescents with overweight or obesity seem satisfied with their weight and not ready or motivated to engage in weight loss efforts.”
Between 1988 and 1994, about 22 percent of teenagers had overweight or obesity. This increased to 34.03 percent between 2009 and 2014. Yet during that same time frame, the percentage of adolescents who said they tried to lose weight decreased from 33.68 percent to 27.24 percent.
“As of today, professional organizations including the American Heart Association only recommend obesity screen[ing], therefore, fewer pediatricians discussed weight issue with teens if kids are overweight but not obese, it’s time to consider overweight screening among teens,” Dr. Jian Zhang, co-author of the study and associate professor in the department of epidemiology at GSU, wrote in an email to The Washington Times.
The data was presented as a research letter, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.
Dr. Zhang said the researchers are looking at a number of questions on the NHANE survey for follow up studies, including “what do you think about your body weight?” to further understand teen attitudes toward being overweight.