Free «The Psychological Effects of Obesity in Teens in Urban Areas» Essay Sample

Teenage obesity is a great challenge today not only for teenagers, but also for their families (Cohen, 2013). This condition affects physical appearance and the mental perspective of a teenager. Research has shown that there are several factors that lead to teenage obesity that include developmental issues, genetic make-up, family diet habits, and lifestyle. Obesity is a condition when a person has excess body fat (Haerens, 2012). This causes a person to be overweight. It is measured using Body Mass Index (BMI) or determining the waist circumference. A person having Body Mass Index of 30 or more is obese; but BMI is not always used to diagnose obesity definitively since very muscular people sometimes have a high BMI. However, for most people BMI can be a useful indicator of body fatness. Waist circumference is less used to measure obesity because it is not always as accurate as using the body mass Index. Generally, women who have a waist circumference of 80 cm or more and men with a waist circumference of more than 94 cm are most likely to have obesity-related health problems. Individuals may want to use additional aspects to assess their different risk factors, including family history, level of physical activity, smoking, and dietary habits (Ritter, 2014).

Obesity affects a lot of people around the world and this condition is caused by consuming a lot of junk food that has a high amount of calories. Much of these calories are left in the body unused, leading to the increase in weight. Being obese makes a person vulnerable to diseases such as hypertension and coronary diseases. In addition, the effects of being obese such as feeling insecure and low self-esteem can be partially solved with the help of dietary rules and exercises as primary treatments. Exercising reduces the occurrence of obesity. Obesity is a cause for concern due to its negative effects on human health. The presence of obesity or excess weight increases the risk of many diseases and pathological states (Haerens, 2012). Obesity often results in depression and anxiety. In addition, obese people are often subjected to ridicule, humiliation, hostile attitude of others and of the opposite sex, as well as discrimination in various aspects of production and social life, which leads to low self-esteem and social isolation. Obesity leads to a narrowing of the range of interests, self-actualization, self-service difficulties, and emotional and social activity decrease.

Prevalence of adolescent obesity is rising among many nations in the world. Once reflected as a problem of rich nations, it is now becoming a common challenge even in developing nations. 10% children and more than 1.1 billion adults are classified as obese or overweight. Teenage obesity is now currently discussed as a global epidemic and the World Health Organization has found out that in 2015 nearly about 2.3 billion adults are overweight and about 700 million adolescents are obese. There is variation in the occurrence of obesity in the United Sates and sub-Saharan Africa with 305% and 2% respectively. These numbers are expected to rise in the coming years unless effective prevention measures are put in place. With growing frequency, it is essential to emphasize the all-inclusive management of teenage obesity without abandoning developmental issues and psychological concerns that might play a vital role in its pathogenesis (Lillis, Dahl, & Weineland, 2014).

Children in developing nations currently suffer from a combined risk of malnourishment, urban children are distressed with over-nutrition, whereas countryside and slum children suffer from effects of under-nutrition. Adolescent obesity is related to a higher probability of premature death and frailty in adulthood with 50–80% of these obese teenagers developing into obese grown-ups (Gadkari & Coveney, 2014). The cruel sequence of being overweight hence begins at the infant level when the child starts attaining weight due to little physical exercising and consumption of junk food. Diet orientation is determined in some ways when food serves as a prize for a desired conduct. This is frequently done by parents or guardians in their developmental training of a child from an infant age. There is thus a bigger craving for food and consumption is regarded with great anticipation. A teenage will be given the kind of food that he or she likes regardless of its nutritional value. Therefore, a teenager chooses the sugary type of food that has high amounts of calories, but low nutritional value. There is a noticeable inconsistency between energy use and energy consumption in adolescents with obesity (Dicker, 2011). Obese adolescents consume repeatedly high calorie foods throughout the day with slight or no physical exercise. Obese teenagers have a tendency to eat high-fat sugary foods like cakes, ice cream, soft drinks, and crackers. They eat food as a frequent source of relief rather than just a source of nutrition. Some of them lie or cheat concerning food and might even keep junk food in their rooms that they grab upon from time to time (Dawes, 2014).

 Obese adolescents are recognized to eat extra in the evening (after 6 pm) and consume less in the morning. This is also influenced by social nutritional lifestyles of the immediate family. An overweight adolescent also eats more at night, has heftier dinners than breakfasts, and eats out extra frequently than non-obese counterparts. Such children are identified to eat more when in groups than when they are alone and they swallow down their food, taking less bites per piece than their normal friends. It is well-acknowledged that consumption in groups points out at eating more than what one would usually eat (Dicker, 2011). People who eat out more frequently are identified to have more offspring who are overweight. Additional soda and soft drink drinking from the infant age is linked with teenage obesity. A large number of family members have been recognized as a threat issue for adolescent obesity. However, no direct correlation has been revealed. There has been a relationship concerning night eating and adult corpulence. Night eating is a common occurrence in obese children, but there is a shortage of studies backing up this relationship.

Health Effects of Obesity

Adolescent obsity has both instantaneous and long-term effects on health and well-being.

Immediate Health Effects

Obese youth is more probable to have risk factors for circulatory illnesses such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. 70% of obese youth aged from 5 to 17 years has at least one risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Obese adolescents are more likely to have pre-diabetes condition. This is a situation when blood glucose levels are high and pose a danger for the development of diabetes. Adolescents who are overweight are at bigger threat of bone and joint ailments, slumber apnea, and public and psychological difficulties such as stigmatization and reduced confidence (Cohen, 2013).

Long-Term Health Effects

Children and teenagers who are overweight are likely to be obese at the age of 13-19 and are therefore more at a risk of having grown-up health problems such as heart sickness, type 2 diabetes, stroke, numerous types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Overweight condition and obesity are connected with a higher danger for several categories of tumors like breast cancer, colon cancer, endometrium cancer, as well as throat, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, cervix, and prostate cancers, multiple myeloma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Dawes, 2014).

Being obese increases the probability of developing hypertension. This is because obesity increases the blood flow rate, causes vasodilation, and increases the cardiac output. In case the weight gain is in the abdominal area, there is an increased chance for hypertension since this kind of fat makes arteries copious and rigid. With rigid blood vessels, blood flow is inhibited and this causes salt retention, thereby increasing blood pressure. This makes the heart strain as it tries to pump blood around the body and may lead to a heart failure and even death (Barbour, 2011).A coronary heart disease is typically a collection and deposition of fatty matter on the walls of the arteries that supply the heart with blood. This accumulation of fatty deposits and other waste substances on the walls of the coronary arteries makes them narrower, thus reducing the flow of blood to the heart tissues (Cohen, 2013). The chance of developing the coronary heart disease is increased if one is obese.

According to Ritter (2014), obesity makes an individual feel insecure and have a low self-esteem. A sense of insecurity is created by being obese since such people feel offended when people around them use their obese nature to bully them. In addition, an obese person develops negative thoughts about his or her body, which affects a person’s image and can make it difficult to achieve their goals in life.

Causes of Obesity

There are many reasons that unswervingly and ultimately contribute to obesity. Behavior, environment, and genetics are among the core contributors to obesity. The Center for Disease Control has acknowledged these three issues as central reasons of the obesity endemic.


In the today’s fast-paced setting, it is easy to adopt harmful eating habits. In case of obesity, behavior relates to food selection, extent of physical exercises one gets, and determination to uphold one’s health. People will turn to junk food due to pressure from school or workplaces as they find comfort in eating more and more. People in the United States are now eating more junk food that are rich in calories on average than in previous decades (Rodríguez, Késenne, & Humphreys, 2011). The rise in calories has also reduced the amount of consumed nutrients, but these nutrients are required for a healthy diet. This behavioral problem also relates to the rise in dish sizes at home and when dining out while on vacation or at school. While adolescents are eating more junk food rich in calories, they are not engaging in active physical exercises where extra calories can be used, but instead most of them prefer passive video games. The impact of television, laptops, and other technologies depresses physical action and exercises and complements to the challenge of increasing obesity among the youth (Rodríguez et al., 2011).


Environment plays a key part in shaping person’s conduct and daily life. There are countless environmental effects that can influence health choices. In the modern world, the society has developed a more sedentary lifestyle than before. Walking has been substituted by using trains and driving cars, while physical activity has been swapped away by technology and nourishment has been overwhelmed by high calorie junk food (Gadkari & Coveney, 2014). Such foods are sold at fast food joints.


According to Biederman and Pazer (2011), genetics plays a significant part in causing adolescence obesity. Genes can lead to some disorders that end in obesity. Nevertheless, not all people who are susceptible to obesity become obese. Genes impact every area of human physiology, growth, development, and adaptation. There are some types of obesity that are caused by so-called monogenic alterations, i.e. spontaneous mutations in single genes. Suck kind of mutations has been found in genes that are responsible for controlling appetite, energy homeostasis, and food consumption. These genes liable for the production of the hormone that leads to obesity include leptin receptor, melanocortin-4 receptor, and pro-opiomelanocortin.

Due to the changing patterns of life, there are changes in the routine of food consumption and dietary practices. Obesity in teenagers has been linked to urbanization and inactive lifestyle that comes with it. According to Zhao and Kaestner (2010), urbanization and industrialization have greatly contributed to teenage obesity. This is due to a high rate of industrial development and economic changes that take place today. This leads to a more sedentary working form of life as well as great changes taking place in terms of eating habits, which are referred to as nutrition transition. Nutrition transition also concerns fundamental modifications that have been witnessed in the recent times in diets of individuals throughout diverse nations and have been assumed to supplement a tightly connected development of urbanization, transformation, industrial development,, and globalization (Zhao & Kaestner, 2010). This evolution covers a steady move from healthy diets to processed dishes that are loaded with sugar and inundated fats and are supplemented by concurrent changes in lifestyles that encourage passive life. This calls for a comprehensive survey of factors in such obesogenic situations that may contribute to disparities in dietary parameters. This phrase ‘obesogenic situations’ has been coined to demonstrate that bodily, economic, social, and cultural surroundings of industrialized countries inspire progressive energy passiveness in their citizens.

Significant psychosocial factors of obesity may comprise stressors that generate emotional eating while being intimidated, suffering neglect and maltreatment, or living in circumstances when constancy, limit-setting, and supervision are missing. Strained teenagers are more disposed to overconsumption of food or what is called emotional eating. This is eating too much food for comfort or making an individual unappealing. Some of the stressors that can lead to overeating include separation, divorce, bullying, physical/psychological abuse, exploitation, and living in adoptive care with recurrent settlement changes. Such challenges can influence an adolescent to use food as a managing mechanism (Buckroyd & Rother, 2008).

Koocher and La Greca (2011) show that chronic stress also complicates poor sleeping behavior, exhaustion, and unwillingness to participate in systematic physical exercises at school and at home. Insufficient sleep is an identified risk factor of obesity. Stress can adversely affect the immune system, increasing the danger of viral respiratory infections. This will, in addition, prevent continuous physical exercising or activity. Demanding living circumstances, including poverty, generalized apprehension, and depression can kindle neuroendocrine reactions. A triggered hypothalamic-pituitary alignment and a sensitive nervous system may lead to intra-intestinal adiposity, insulin conflict, and metabolic syndrome with unnecessary cortisol production.

The tendency to make unfair decisions founded on an individual weight is referred as the weight bias and it is a very important societal problem. Obese people are mostly teased and have a challenge of making new and maintaining old friends. Overweight teenagers are highly vulnerable to being intimidated, demeaned, or detested and they are also more probable to be involved in bullying. It is a hard task to help an obese teenager lose weight through changing the lifestyle when there is no attention to identifying the bullied teenager. Several bullied teenagers are incapable of strictly following a healthy diet plan because of their emotional eating tendency (Dawes, 2014). In addition, bullying may make them engage in outdoor physical exercises. Discrimination based on a human body condition and aimed against obese children is a hurtful, pervasive, and noteworthy social problem that had to be addressed in a timely manner as a part of the child’s or teen’s treatment therapy. Parents play an important role in helping an obese child to live a healthy active life and follow ways to manage the condition. Some parental roles that can help manage the teenager obesity include moral role-modeling, setting of confines, purchase of healthy food for family feeding, keeping to healthy family procedures such as consuming meals and undertaking physical exercises together, efficient time and money management, and safeguarding that in case of a divorce life of the child remains as normal as possible (Dawes, 2014).

Teenagers who do not have routine timely limits and control at home are at a higher risk of obesity. There are unclear reasons why there is a higher incidence of overweight cases among children who do not have brothers and sisters. Ideally, a single child might consume more out of boredom and solitude or parents may treat their child as a grown up person by giving him or her bigger portions of food or allowing to watch too much TV and play video games at the expense of physical exercising. Some parents push their teenagers too much so as to do well in a particular sport and this makes the latter evade physical activities. They may develop a more inactive form of life because of “burnout” or disappointment and stop exercising (Ritter, 2014). In case of a divorce, it may be difficult for a parent to talk with a teenage child, but it is an important contributor to obesity. This is because separation and divorce strain such parental resources as time, money, and energy, leading to a challenge concerning healthy eating routine and regular exercising. Some children may try to overcome the stress brought by separation through emotional eating.

Despite the high cost of buying and consuming junk food as compared to healthy eating such as fruits and vegetables, most families buy unhealthy food to avoid cooking. Fresh foodstuff is more difficult to obtain in many urban areas. Obesity is more common in families that depend on a limited income as they look for cheap alternatives to foods, especially in fast foods kiosks. Moreover, television shows advertisements of foods rich in fats and sugar (high calories) during teenager programming. This policy will always succeed as companies try to create loyalty towards their brands (Fradkin, 2014).

According to Zhao and Kaestner (2010), some teenagers living in apartments or in neighborhoods in urban areas where there are not enough places for playing or the weather does not permit outdoor physical activities are at a bigger risk of developing obesity. When there are restricted and few recreational opportunities in the form of parks and community playgrounds, there is a byproduct of urban spread that particularly influences low-income families, which correlates with obesity. Even though several areas have disregarded valuable daily physical education (PE) classes in favor of academic subjects, the current research demonstrates that regular PE actually improves academic performance and decreases anxiety. Advantages of physical exercise and active involvement in sport or recreational activities relating to the well-being of teenagers are regularly prevented by cost, absence of access or chance, and parental time limitations.