Study finds overweight teens are confused about weight loss strategy

    About 17 percent of U.S. teens are obese; in Philadelphia, those rates are even higher.

    A new study examines what Philadelphia public high school students are doing to shed pounds. It turned up some puzzling results.

    Evaluating data from a risk-behavior survey, researchers found that three in four overweight teens reported that they are trying to lose weight. Among them, researchers also found higher smoking rates.

    Girls who were trying to lose weight reported that they were exercising, but also drinking sugary soda. Boys trying to lose weight also reported that they were not exercising and playing three or more hours of video games a day.

    Researcher Clare Lenhart said the study clearly shows that teens are confused about weight loss.

    “It could be that they are interested but don’t know how,” she said. “Or perhaps they think that some of what they are doing is helpful, but there’s a number of implications for education and programming that could build on this data.”

    Lenhart recommends that school nurses or pediatricians should engage students in a conversation about what they are doing to lose weight. She suggests they strive for specific answers about what the teens are eating and how much they are exercising.

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