Obesity Puts Girls At Higher Risk Than Boys

By: Michele Wolfson

Research from the University of California has suggested that obesity has a greater impact on the blood pressure of teenage girls compared to teenage boys. In the study that included 1,700 teens between the ages of 13 and 17, obese girls had three times the risk of higher blood pressure. Findings from this study also discovered that obese teenage males are 3.5 times more likely to develop elevated systolic blood pressure than their non-obese peers. For females, the statistics are even worse. Obese females are nine times more likely to develop elevated systolic blood pressure than to non-obese teen girls.

This is a major problem that American families are facing today. The consumption of unhealthy foods can attribute to the stiffening of the aorta- the largest artery of the body and ultimately increases the risk of heart failure. Teenagers who are obese are likely affected by cardiovascular problems, which could threaten or even shorten lives because symptoms are developing "silently." If drastic measures are not taken to reverse this epidemic, we are looking at a ticking time bomb in regards to teenagers falling prey to diseases including Type II diabetes, strokes, and heart attacks.

The rate of teenage obesity in the past two decades has skyrocketed. It has been suggested that obese adolescent girls are at higher risk of heart disease compared to obese boys because they are 50-60% less physically active than boys. Clearly, the best way to help stop the rise in childhood obesity is through proper education on healthy eating and exercise.  After-school programs are being developed nation wide in order to improve the overall health and well being of middle and high school girls. Funded by a $3.6 million federal grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the 17-week program, called Girls on the Move, is geared toward increasing physical activity among low-income, middle school girls in urban areas. Programs geared towards making sure the youth of America are staying physically active are crucial for our country nationwide. A New York City program called GoGirlGo!, established in 2011, has a goal to build a network community organizations dedicated to getting New York girls, ages 8-18, moving and physically active.

Photo: Der Wunderbare Mandarin

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