“Usually, I like to eat fast food once or twice a week.” That is the typical answer from Bryant, my 16- year-old African-American friend, who’s obese. The average weight for a 16-year-old male is between 125 and 168.5 pounds. Bryant is 43% over weight. This is not considered a normal weight.
According to KidsHealth.org, when someone has excess fat, it can affect health and their ability to walk, run and overall get around. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that being overweight is similar to obesity because they are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. Overweight refers to an individual weighing 10% or more of what is considered his’ or her’s recommended healthy weight. Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight.
CDC also identifies ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. Obesity rates have nearly tripled among youth over the past 3 decades. Today, about 1 in 3 children and teens in the U.S. is considered overweight or obese, states NIH.gov. Bryant is obese due to overeating.
CDC also states that African Americans have a 51% higher prevalence of obesity than Caucasians. According to The Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a hospital, the percentage of children and teens that are overweight continues to increase. Among children and teens ages 6 to 19, 15% or approximately 9 million are overweight.
Dr. Shirley Knight, my friend’s pediatrician, who works at ES Health Solutions in Hazelwood, MO, states that genetics play a role in obesity
Teens have bullied and teased obese people. People talk about Bryant all of the time. They don’t comprehend that the more teens tease obese people, the more they eat.
“When I’m bullied I usually just ignore it,” says Bryant. “But there has been times where I would just fight it out.” Bryant’s freshman year in high school, he fought people his own age that were teasing him about his weight. “I’ve grown to know that I don’t need my fists to get over bullies and my weight,” says Bryant, “I can always use my success. Success is the best revenge on a bully.” He says that he now just ignores the kids and even adults that tease him. Bryant says he doesn’t feel alone because I always keep him company. He is always laughing and talking with me.
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Bryant says he feels pressured to lose weight by his family and friends. Although his parents do not put him down or belittle him, he is, at most times, stressed and paranoid. He continues on with his life. Childhood isn’t an opportunity to make light of someone because of a disability of any type. It is an opportunity to make a change. That is something that both of us, together, concluded. Smile about it and make a difference. Emmani Cunningham
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