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Physical Exercise and Good Dieting for Adolescents

Physical Exercise and Good Dieting for Adolescents

Routine physical exercise and a good diet are crucial in avoiding chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Adolescents’ physical inactivity and poor eating approach may cause a greater risk for several chronic diseases, such as obesity, type II diabetes, and hypertension. For the previous three decades, the incidence of obesity among those aged between 6 and 19 years has multiplied by three. Between 2007 and 2008, 18% of individuals aged 12-19 years suffered from obesity in the United States. Involving adolescents in regular physical activity and healthy dieting can reduce the risk of obesity and associated chronic health conditions.

Adolescents’ physical exercises and nutritional behaviors are affected by several societal factors, such as families, the entertainment industry, beverage and food industries, the media, government agencies, faith-based institutions, health care providers, childcare settings, schools, and communities. All of these sectors have a significant, autonomous role to play in enhancing adolescents’ physical exercise and nutritional behaviors. Education institutions play a critical role by creating a supportive and safe atmosphere with practices and policies that promote healthy activities. Schools also provide students with opportunities to practice and learn about physical exercise and healthy nutritional behaviors.

Several factors may lead to obesity, including environmental factors, an inactive way of life, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity. Considering young people’s time in school, the school environment may have a crucial influence on an adolescent’s diet. Involving students in regular physical exercises and good dieting may help reduce their risk of obesity and its associated chronic conditions. Changing the obesity menace in the United States needs a well-coordinated, long-term strategy Schools can assume a bigger role in this. Around 80% of adolescents in the US need to exercise or practice more to satisfy the youth’s guidelines. Some factors positively associated with physical activity among adolescents include support of relatives and companions, self-efficacy or confidence in being active, school sports or physical education, individual goals, sex, and parental training.

Review of Literature

Physical exercise and good dieting regulate body weight by balancing caloric intake and energy expenditure. Weight gain normally occurs when someone uses less energy using physical activity than one takes in through the diet. If this imbalance is continued for a given period, the risk of gaining more weight and obesity is increased. Being overweight can be described as possessing excessive body weight for a certain stature from water, bone, muscle, fat or even as a result of all these factors. Obesity refers to the state in which one has excessive body fat.

In 2008, the incidence of obesity amongst adolescents aged 12-19 years multiplied more than by three compared with the incidence in 1980, which rose from 5% to 18%. The national objective of Healthy People 2020 is to lessen the percentage of adolescents who are obese to around 16% by 2020. In terms of race, Afro-American adolescents have experienced higher body mass index (BMI) increases than both Mexican-Americans and white since 1980. In 2007-2008, the percentage of obese black non-Hispanic females was very high compared to white non-Hispanic females. On the other hand, the percentage of obese Hispanic males was very high compared to that of white non-Hispanic males. Anderson & Whitaker state that adolescent obesity is more common in Alaska/American Indian Native adolescents than Asian or white adolescents. Additionally, a higher percentage of young people (23%) from low-income families are suffering from obesity as compared to those from well-up families (14%).

Obesity in adolescents is linked to several direct health risks, such as orthopedic issues, sleep problems, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels, hypertension, and psychological and social issues, including poor self-esteem and discrimination. Most of these direct health risks may have lasting effects on young people, affecting them later in life. Inadequate public health and education efforts to reduce such health risks will affect education and healthcare systems.

Rising incidence rates of obesity in teenagers are of great concern as teenagers who are overweight are most probable to suffer from chronic diseases associated with obesity. The chances of adolescent obesity persisting later in life are very high. A study by Brug, Lien, Klepp, & van Lenthe indicates that a higher percentage of obese adolescents (76%) became obese adults of both sexes. Obesity in adulthood is linked to a higher risk for osteoarthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, early death, and several other health issues. The signs and risk factors for the diseases mentioned above are identified in obese adolescents. The major health concern is that this development could bring down the onset stage of chronic ailments and conditions and probably lessen the lifespan or decrease the quality of life of obese adolescents.

National Guidelines and Evidence-Based Practice

In 2011, CDC developed school health guidelines and recommendations to promote physical exercise and good dieting among young people. These guidelines were developed by physical exercise and nutrition experts across the country, and they key out the best practices and policies that schools can implement to help adolescents adjust and keep up a physically active way of living and good dieting habits. The CDC guidelines align with the Healthy People 2020, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ national goals connected with physical exercise and good dieting among young individuals. The CDC provides nine guidelines, each containing many implementation approaches to support schools’ progress toward attaining their aim.

The nine guidelines of well-being and recommendations can be outlined as follows:

  • Utilizing a harmonized strategy to formulate, execute, and assess physical exercise and good dieting practices and policies.
  • Establishing a school environment that promotes physical exercise and good dieting.
  • Providing a nutritious school meal program and ensuring that adolescents have only attractive, healthy beverage and food choices provided away from the school food schedule.
  • Executing a complete physical exercise lineup with excellent physical training as the foundation.
  • Executing well-being training that offers adolescents the experiences, abilities, attitudes, and information required for lifetime physical activity and healthy eating.
  • Providing learners with social and psychological health and health services to handle physical exercise, good eating, and prevention of associated chronic diseases.
  • Cooperating with community members and families in formulating and implementing physical exercise and good dieting programs, practices, and policies.
  • Providing school staff members with a wellness program that involves physical exercise and good dieting services for every staff member.

Employing trained individuals and providing professional development opportunities for nutrition services, health education, physical education, social services, psychological health, and health workforce members along with the personnel who oversee away-from-school, cafeteria time, and recess programs.


The incidence of obesity among young individuals in the US has risen intensely in the last three decades, with specific high rates among Native American, African American, and Hispanic youths. Studies show that the incidence rate of overweight or obesity in adolescents aged 12-19 years in 2012 was 33.6% in the United States. Though there are many causes of obesity, the literature review section in this paper has identified that physical inactivity and poor eating habits play a significant role. As a result, some health interventions intended for adolescents have focused on health promotion programs, especially those in schools, and exercise and nutrition counseling in health care institutions.

Healthcare providers also play a crucial role in influencing behavioral changes among adolescents through simple exercise and nutrition advice. However, studies have suggested that obesity-related counseling of health care providers has been deteriorating, with physical activity counseling reducing from 74% in 2003 to 60% in 2007 and that of nutrition reducing from 75% to 59% during the same period. Some barriers associated with this deterioration of routine advice by healthcare providers include patient rebellion, insufficient reimbursement, shortage of resources, and inadequate time.


Enhancing lifetime physical exercise and good dieting behaviors among young people needs attention to some environmental and behavioral influences each community offers. For the previous three decades, obesity amongst individuals aged between 6 and 19 has more than tripled in the United States. The percentage had risen by 18% by the year 2008 as compared to 5% in 1980. Involving adolescents in regular physical activity and healthy eating may help reduce their risk of obesity and associated chronic conditions, such as stroke, cancer, and heart disease. CDC has developed nine school health guidelines and recommendations that would assist in promoting physical exercise and a good diet among young people. Healthcare providers also play a crucial role in influencing behavioral changes among adolescents through simple exercise and nutrition advice though their input has been deteriorating due to several factors, such as patient rebellion, insufficient reimbursement, shortage of resources, and inadequate time.

📎 References:

1. Anderson, S. E., & Whitaker, R. C. (2009). Prevalence of obesity among US preschool children in different racial and ethnic groups. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 163(4), 344-348.
2. Boyle, M., Lawrence, S., Schwarte, L., Samuels, S., & McCarthy, W. J. (2009). Health care providers’ perceived role in changing environments to promote healthy eating and physical activity: Baseline findings from health care providers participating in the healthy eating, active communities program. Pediatrics, 123(Supplement 5), S293-S300.
3. Brug, J., Lien, N., Klepp, K. I., & van Lenthe, F. J. (2010). Exploring overweight, obesity and their behavioral correlates among children and adolescents: Results from the Health-promotion through Obesity Prevention across Europe project. Public Health Nutrition, 13(10A), 1676-1679.
4. Carlson, S. A., Densmore, D., Fulton, J. E., Yore, M. M., & Kohl, H. W. (2009). Differences in physical activity prevalence and trends from 3 US surveillance systems: NHIS, NHANES, and BRFSS. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 6(Suppl 1), S18-27.
5. Chriqui, J. F., Schneider, L., Chaloupka, F. J., Ide, K., & Pugach, O. (2009). Local wellness policies: Assessing school district strategies for improving children’s health 2006-07 and 2007-08. Chicago: Bridging the Gap Program, University of Illinois.
6. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2011). School health guidelines to promote healthy eating and physical activity. CDC Recommendations and Reports, 60(RR05), 1-71.
7. Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Curtin, L. R., Lamb, M. M., & Flegal, K. M. (2010). Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA, 303(3), 242-249.
8. Peart, T., & Crawford, P. B. (2012). Trends in nutrition and exercise counseling among adolescents in the health care environment. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 1-6.
9. Reedy, J., & Krebs-Smith, S. M. (2010). Dietary sources of energy, solid fats, and added sugars among children and adolescents in the United States. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110(10), 1477-1484.
10. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.
11. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, and Office of the Surgeon General. (2010). The Surgeon General’s vision for a healthy and fit nation. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services.