Obesity in adolescents: How teenagers lose pounds

Obesity in adolescents: How teenagers lose pounds



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No more apple spritzer again: fat children fight against being overweight
There are fewer and fewer fat children, but more extremely fat children. This was the result of a German study last year. Some health experts are now even warning of a real obesity epidemic. A special program at the Hanover Children's Hospital helps children and teenagers slim down.

More and more extremely fat children in Germany
An international team of researchers reported a few months ago that the number of children with obesity has increased dramatically in many countries around the world. In Germany, experts are particularly concerned about the increase in childhood obesity. Many obese children have diseases that usually only adults have: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, lipid disorders and joint problems. With obesity, gout or fatty liver can occur as early as childhood. In adulthood, obese children are also at greater risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. In order to prevent obesity, in addition to a change in diet that should make do with less fat and sugar, more exercise for children is usually recommended. There is a special program at the Children's Hospital in Hanover that helps children and young people get rid of extra pounds.

Healthier eating and exercise behavior
One of the participants in this program is David. As the news agency dpa reports, the boy was already chubby in primary school and was sometimes called “rollmops” by classmates. At the age of twelve, he decided to change something fundamentally: "It is easier in life if you carry less kilos with you." Since spring, he has slimmed down with the help of the program for very overweight 8- to 17-year-olds. However, in these courses at the children's and adolescent hospital Auf der Bult in Hanover, not only the pounds should drop. An important goal is to motivate the whole family to adopt healthier eating and exercise habits.

Risk of illness due to severe overweight
The Germans are generally getting heavier. More than half of adults are overweight - and the trend is rising. According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around 15 percent of three to 17 year olds were too fat in 2007. Around six percent suffered from obesity; in the 14- to 17-year-olds it was even eight percent. Affected people not only often have to endure teasing and are emotionally stressed, but also have a significantly higher risk of illness. The consequences can include diabetes, poor posture, nocturnal breathing interruptions, cardiovascular diseases or even cancer. According to studies, genetic predisposition plays a major role in obesity. Researchers estimate the influence of the genes at 50 to 90 percent. Therefore, some adolescents who consume tons of sweet drinks have only dental problems, while others gain massive weight.

Water instead of apple spritzer
The children's hospital in Hanover has been offering kick courses for obese boys and girls for ten years. “Kick” stands for intensive child weight coaching in the hospital. The program, which runs for over a year, is certified by the Working Group on Childhood Adolescence. "Unfortunately, far too few clinics have been offering certified programs," said chief physician Thomas Danne. Active membership in a sports club is a prerequisite for inclusion in the program. At the beginning there are one or two training afternoons every week. Sports training with the other course participants is scheduled once a week. David has had tremendous success. He has lost five kilos within six months and is no longer considered obese, but only slightly overweight. "At home, instead of apple spritzer, there is now water and no candy plate anymore," said the twelve-year-old.

Education about the sugar and fat content of food
In the program, a dietician explains to parents about the sugar and fat content of food. This is combined with practical advice on how to replace apple spritzer with water or Mortadella with low-fat cooked ham. The sugar content of drinks is also illustrated. Mothers and fathers are often amazed when they hear how much unhealthy sugar is in iced tea: 28 liters of sugar are contained in one liter. The dietician also said: "Milk is not a drink, but a meal."

Experts call for more school sports
When it comes to obesity, the medical director of the kick program, Thomas Danne, sees responsibility for more than just the individual family. "We have to make healthy living easier," said the diabetes expert. This includes understandable food labeling, for example with the help of a traffic light, where the products are classified as red, yellow or green according to their sugar, fat and salt content. Some experts are already talking about an obesity epidemic. To curb this, the German Obesity Society, among other things, is calling for more physical education in schools.

However, overweight children often shy away from it. So did 15-year-old Annika from Hohenhameln in the district of Peine: "I used to hate jogging in school sports, now it is much better," said the tenth grader, who has already completed the kick course and has lost a lot of weight. Even if she would never have "model measurements", she confidently declared: "I am not measuring myself against others." Even after completing her kicking course, she continues to exercise. Annika recently tried stand up paddling on a floating stand-up paddle board. "I was afraid that if I lost weight I could develop an eating disorder," said the 15-year-old's mother. But her daughter was given great psychological support. "Not only has she lost weight, but above all she is shining more now." (Ad)

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