Gina Vaynshteyn
September 27, 2013 8:00 am

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three children and teenagers are either overweight or obese. It’s extremely clear that we have a major health issue on our hands, and it has not only affected our bodies, but our mental health, as well. Even though it’s important to discuss the repercussions of obesity, it’s equally important not to overlook the desperate measures some people take in order to lose weight.

The image associated with “eating disorder” is usually a bony, emaciated body, so we usually don’t think to look at normal or slightly overweight young men and women. According to The Daily Mail, “Obese teenagers who develop eating disorders often get overlooked by health care professionals because of their size.” These individuals might weigh 150 pounds, yet they are secretly limiting themselves to two cups of yogurt a day.

With the recent increase of obesity awareness, more and more children and teenagers are facing immense pressure to lose weight, and this can cause psychological damage. Whether they are teased, discriminated against, or bullied, these girls and boys end up feeling badly about their bodies. Their self-confidence, as a result, plummets, and more likely than not, these teenagers end up with life-long body issues.

Due to the societal pressures to be thin and “healthy,” teenagers are taking it upon themselves to lose weight. This should be progressive and positive, but they are losing weight in an unhealthy way.  In no way am I a health expert, but I do know that limiting your body to less than 1,300 calories a day, taking diet pills, and essentially starving yourself is not healthy.

The major problem is that no one is noticing. In fact, friends, family and doctors are complimenting these teenagers on how great they look ever since they lost weight. Doctors focus on how and why we’ve gained weight, but shouldn’t they wonder how we’ve lost weight?

Signs such as dizziness, back pain, heart problems, and a sudden change in menstrual flow indicate that a person is losing weight in an unhealthy manner. According to The Daily Mail, “an estimated 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder sometime in their life.” This is not okay. It’s not okay to be advocating a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of weight loss but not educating and supporting young men and women with their nutrition. I’m not saying everyone who wants to lose weight should have a personal nutritionist, but I think it should be the job of every primary care doctor to keep track of their patients’ bodies.

Most importantly, we should be aware of these inner-struggles young men and women face. More people should be educated about nutritional and well-balanced foods as well as reasonable ways to lose weight. No one should be starving themselves to look “thin” or “beautiful” or “perfect”. Right now, we need to focus on health. Not size.

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