Know Your Teen’s Health Risks Before Weight Loss

Teens today are more overweight and obese than ever. People endlessly point fingers and speculate as to how teens may die before their parents due to obesity. They can blame excess sugar intake and too many hours in front of the television. However, we have run out of time as to whom to point the finger at and we need to focus on helping teens lose weight forever, as their health is the future of our nation’s health.

Parents, because you choose to help your teen lose weight, you are being proactive. Helping your teen win their battle with weight loss while they are young fights against preventable diseases and obesity. If every parent helped their overweight teen lose weight the obesity epidemic in the United States could slow and reverse.

A huge part of weight control that directly relates to preventing disease and obesity involves knowing your teen’s health risks. The following tests may help parents recognize potential diseases their teens may have to fight:

  • Is there a family history of heart disease? If there is a history of heart disease, heart attacks or high cholesterol, a fasting blood lipid profile test will reveal any hiding risk in your teen. This simple blood test measures all cholesterol levels in your teen. Also having their blood pressure checked is another way to reveal early signs because most elevated levels of blood pressure are without signs or symptoms. Even though heart disease is more common in men, as an example, my great grandmother had a heart attack and my grandmother had heart disease. Therefore my mother and I are both at risk for heart disease.

  • Is there a family history of diabetes? I’m sure you are aware if your family has a history of type I or type II diabetes. Obesity and the development of diabetes go hand-in-hand. If there is no family history of diabetes but your teen is overweight or obese they are still at risk for diabetes so I highly recommend a consultation or a fasting blood glucose test.

  • Is there a family history of thyroid disease? If there were a history of any thyroid disease in your family, I would highly recommend your teen be tested. This is especially true if they are having mood swings, lethargy, hair loss, dry skin or even hyperactivity. Although it is more common in females to develop a thyroid disorder, young men are not immune. A professional can administer an easy blood test for the disorder. As an example, my mother had half of her thyroid removed and now takes medication. I myself was diagnosed with hypothyroid after wondering for years why I couldn’t lose weight on an extremely low calorie diet but gained weight, had constant lethargy and hair loss.

  • Is there a family history of psychiatric or personality disorders? Oftentimes undiagnosed depression, anxiety or any personality disorder may lead to extreme weight gain due to emotional eating. There are many doctors qualified to screen your teen for these.

If a test reveals a health problem or risk, your teen may take medication or exercise, change their diet, or do all three. A licensed professional will have excellent options for your teen. The test results are also highly motivating to use as a measurable starting point in your teen’s weight loss. In any case, the best way to start is to know your teen’s baseline health before beginning their weight loss plan.