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Dietary considerations are important for adolescent weight control

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The obesity epidemic can be particularly difficult for adolescents to cope with during this sensitive developmental time in their lives. The dietary patterns and lifestyle habits of adolescents are critical factors for them in helping them to maintain a healthy weight. Diets with a low fat content and exercise are suggested for the health and well being of adolescents, reports the Basque Research group on Jan. 8, 2014.

A study by researchers at UPV/EHU has confirmed that, irrespective of the total calories which are consumed and the physical activity which is done, an excessive proportion of fat present in the diet leads to a greater accumulation of fat in the abdomen. The study has been published in the journal Clinical Nutrition and is part of the HELENA study which has been funded by the European Commission. Idoia Labayen, PhD, has said, “Until now it was thought that even with an unbalanced diet, you somehow compensated for it if you got plenty of physical exercise. In this study we have shown that this is not the case.”

The accumulation of abdominal fat is considered to be very harmful because it increases the risk of suffering from cardiovascular problems, diabetes mellitus, arterial high blood pressure, and high cholesterol level.
Dr. Labayen has commented, “Adolescents are a risk group as far as lifestyles are concerned because they are starting to take their own decisions about what they want and do not want to eat, and they are also going through a period in which many of them have stopped doing any sports."

It was confirmed by this study that the percentage of dietary fat is significantly associated with an increase in abdominal adiposity and that this relation is also independent of the levels of physical exercise which adolescents do. Although physical activity is generally an important prevention factor, in this particular case it is not able to counteract the problem. This research shows that dietary fat content is a primary risk factor in abdominal adiposity in adolescents, regardless of how much physical exercise they do.

There are many serious negative health effects from obesity in youth, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are more likely to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, in obese youth. Obese adolescents are also more likely to have prediabetes. Obese youth are also at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems. Obese youth are also at greater risk for many types of cancer and for obesity as adults.

It is clearly vitally important to stress for adolescents that they should get a lot of exercise and eat nutritious foods. Awareness that too much fat in their diets is particularly unhealthy may help adolescents make better choices about what foods they eat. A good point to make for adolescents is that there's nothing wrong with wanting to look better while striving to be healthier, which are rewards which can follow leading an active lifestyle and maintaining a low fat diet.



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