he issue of teen weight loss is a hot topic in most western developed nations as the obesity crisis engulfs our kids…but how best can we help them to maintain a healthy weight?
The first step is to understand why there’s such a growing obesity problem in our children. A problem that’s resulting in overweight teens and adults.
In a society that’s obsessed with body image, it’s hardly surprising that the most impressionable and vulnerable are often amongst the worst affected.
Your teenage years are when you experiment and take risks, when you begin to develop into the adult that you’re soon to become.
The influences and pressures on young people from the media, advertisers and society in general are enormous!
We don’t know about you, but when we were growing up then sure, there were pressures, but you were a kid for longer.
Teen Weight Loss – What to DO?
Nowadays, kids seem to grow up so much quicker. Our eight year old, Brittany, is so much more aware of youth culture, of the cult of celebrity than I can ever remember being at that age.
The clothes, the hair, the make up…geez, except for the hormones she already is for all intents and purposes a teenager!
She’s also becoming more and more aware of her body shape, of her weight and the shape and weight of her friends.
The influence of food, weight, body shape, societal norms, the pressures to diet…they’re only just beginning!
So as a teenager, or the parents of teens, how do you approach the whole weight loss issue?
Where do You Start With Teen Weight Loss…?
The issue of teen weight loss is a bit of a minefield to be honest, and the advice coming at you from all quarters is often contradictory.
The most sensible advice that no one is going to disagree with is that you need to…
#1. Instill Good Eating Habits From an Early Age
Yeah, yeah, we know from personal experience that that’s far from as easy as it sounds.
And we do struggle as most parents do to get our kids to eat the recommended, healthy, balanced diet.
We’re busy people and the temptation to resort to convenience foods is always there.
But we’re winning! With persistance and consistant messages, we’re getting through to the kids.
They know that fruit and veg are good for them and eat plenty of them.
They know that fried foods are not and don’t mind us limiting fries to once a week.
No foods are banned, but it’s interesting to observe their food choices…generally they choose the healthier option most of the time!
Equipping your children with the knowledge and information they need to make the healthier choices most of the time is going to make their teenage years a lot easier.
#2. Be Active
Hey, the advice is no different for teens as it is for adults. Build some exercise into your daily routine and gaining weight will be less of a problem.
Again, getting your kids into the habit of exercising for fun pays dividends as they get older. Sports, ballet and other types of dance, active play, long walks at the weekend as a family…
Granted, it takes up your time ferrying them back and forth to various activities after school and at the weekend. But it will help to get them into the habit of exercise, which will make exercise during the teenage years more likely.
#3. Take a Whole Family Approach to Teen Weight Loss
Given the stats, the chances are that mum and dad could do with losing a few pounds as well as any overweight teens in the family!
Anyone who’s ever dieted will know that it’s extremely difficult to lose weight when you’re the only one in the family or your immediate peer group that’s trying to do so.
As a teenager, it’s going to be even more difficult.
Adopting some healthy eating criteria for family meals, like cutting down on fatty and sugary foods or eating more fresh fruit and veg will help the whole family and not just any overweight teens.
In the same way, having an exercise plan is a smart move. Say, going out on family bike rides at the weekend or going swimming together in the evening…whatever works for you.
A whole family approach is more likely to result in easy weight loss for teens than putting your teenage on a diet. Which brings us on to…
#4. Don’t Diet
Research shows that dieting is a major contributing factor to the growing problem of eating disorders. They are becoming more and more prevalent amongst teenagers and children as young as eight and nine.
Teen binge eating, anorexia and bulimia can all be caused by repeated and compulsive dieting.
Focussing in on establishing healthy eating and exercise behaviours and a healthy relationship with and attitude to food during childhood and teenage years are a far better option.
#5. When All Else Fails, Try a Weight Loss Camp
If you’re a teenager with a significant weight problem, then a more intensive approach to teen weight loss may be something that you and your parents may want to consider.
Research suggests that getting out of the home and school environment can help to break the routines and behaviours that trigger overeating.
This is particularly important in the early stages of a weight loss program where new eating and exercise behaviours are being established.
A safe, clinically appropriate weight loss camp for teens can help a teenager to learn about healthy eating and exercise. Lessons that can then be implemented at home.
Of course, if nothing has changed at home, then the value of a few weeks at a weight loss camp is questionable. Which makes #3 all the more important for teen weight loss!
So, Teen Weight Loss is Achievable Then…?
Sure is. When approached in the right way, preferably from an early age, teen weight loss need not be a problem.
Prevention is always better than cure, so ensuring that your kids grow up eating a healthy, balanced diet and living active lifestyles is the better option.
But if you’re an overweight teen, or have an overweight teen at home, then adopting the five strategies in the previous section should help.
If you need more help, then check out our 10 tips for easy weight loss for teens.
Teen weight loss is a thorny issue, but one that needs to be tackled if the obesity epidemic threatening our kids’ health is going to be halted and reversed any time soon!