Obesity is gradually being recognized as a national health crisis. It is a huge contributor to heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, and some cancers. And the incidence of obesity among teens, and especially among African-American and Latino teens, is increasing each moment in the US.

Obesity is critical for teens for two reasons: they are likely to develop serious, lifelong health problems and risks during adolescence and they will also form lifelong attitudes and behavior on health promotion, including nutrition, physical activity, use of health care, and use of health education resources. They are unlikely to take steps as an adolescent to prevent outcomes that are decades in the future, yet they will form outlooks and habits that will serve them well or poorly throughout their lives. Thus, public health education must target young people for the same reasons that advertisers for a range of products target this age group.

Building Obesity Awareness among Teens (BOAT) is WEATOC’s response to this growing threat in our community. The goal of this program is to create a Task Force of Peer Educators with specialized knowledge about nutrition, proper eating and exercise habits, and the health risks associated with obesity. Our BOAT Task Force will stay current on obesity-related health issues, develop exciting, interesting workshops and performance materials around this topic, and reach out to health centers, hospitals, youth centers, schools, and other community centers to put on performances that educate others on the serious health issue of obesity.