Helping Overweight Teens Lose Weight

Approximately 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are either overweight or obese (this is a 300% increase since 1970). There are now more than 9 million young people who are at risk of suffering a reduced quality of life due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels or Type 2 Diabetes. On top of this they have negative self images of themselves, which will continue as they mature and could potentially cause psychological issues.

Studies have indicated that a six year old child who is obese has a 50% chance of being obese as an adult. If one or both of the child’s parents are overweight, the chances increase to 80%. These are very serious and alarming statistics for parents with overweight children.

Thankfully, there is good news, change is possible with help of adults in their lives. As parents, teachers and mentors we can teach them healthier behaviors in relation to both their eating and exercise habits to help them to lose weight.

By helping them learn to make healthy food choices, and increasing the amount of exercise they receive, it will only produce positive results.

However, it should be stressed that official dieting, and especially dramatically reducing your teenagers calorie consumption, should only be attempted under strict medical supervision from a professional medical professional such as a physician or nutritionist. Think of the word ‘diet’ as a dirty word as this word has very negative connotations for many people and you certainly don’t want that to be the case for your teenager. Instead, change the focus to ‘healthy living’. Some pediatricians believe that rather than making a child lose weight, it is better to stop them from gaining weight (i.e. hold their weight steady) until their weight an height reach healthy proportions. This involves cutting their calorie intake a little bit rather than a lot which forces their body to use excess adipose tissue (fat) for their physical growth.

The following steps will help facilitate healthier eating habits and increase the amount of exercise they receive.

1. Assessing the Health of Your Child and whether they are overweight

Before making personal or environmental changes in a teenagers life, take some time to examine their home life. Do you allow them to lead a sedentary life, do you have generous stores of high calorie junk and snack foods in the pantry giving them the opportunity to over eat all the time? If you do, then it is important to gradually change these areas of their life.

First, observe how many hours they spend either TV, or at their computer. Teenagers can spend 24 hours per week or more watching TV. Log the time they spend on these activities, and try to reduce this by half by introducing rules about what time they are allowed to do these things, say 7-9pm at night they can watch tv or use the computer.

At mealtime, is it a family meal around the dining table, or are most meals TV/computer dinners? If so, make a family rule that all food (including snacks) be eaten in the kitchen or dining room at a table. This small change is proven to significantly reduce over eating in a household…simply because people don’t want to leave what they are doing to eat so they wait longer.

Next, examine the contents of your fridge and pantry. Which foods do you reach for when you have a snack attack? Are they high in fat, sugar and calories or low in nutritional value? Try cutting back on purchasing these item and substitute them with healthier alternatives, such as fresh fruit and vegetables!

2. Do NOT Shame your Child into Losing Weight

Neither adults nor children should be shamed into losing weight, overweight teenagers know they weigh too much. What a teenager doesn’t know, is how to achieve a normal weight and increase their self esteem. It is important for a teenager to know that their parents love them unconditionally, whether they are fat, skinny or average. Note that I don’t use the term ‘normal’.. it’s the focus on obesity as being abnormal that causes psychological issues. Being overweight is not abnormal… but it is unhealthy!

For parents, mastering the tricky technique of loving children as they are, while helping them achieve a healthy lifestyle can be difficult. Parents need to spend time with their teenagers and believe that the lessons taught will one day come to fruition.

This means that we can teach our youngsters to visualize that healthy plate… half salad or vegetables, quarter carbohydrate (potato, pasta or rice) and quarter protein such as fish, red meat or poultry (or protein rich foods like tofu, mushrooms, eggs, chickpeas and other legumes). But realistically, you need to realize that at some point, they will sneak high calorie snacks in to upset the balance that you have achieved. The question is balance, it’s okay to eat those foods occasionally… just not constantly.

A parent should persist in teaching their teenagers to visualize their plate before food is placed on it. Visualizing how the plate should look is helpful, as it creates a feel for portion control for when the parent is not around so they know what and how much to have. This type of portion control can also be practiced when dining out at a restaurant.

3. Take up some type of Physical Activity as a Family

The recommended amount of for adults is 30 minutes, three to four times per week. For children the recommendation is 60 minutes three to four times per week. However, if you are want to lose weight, then more exercise may be necessary, say 30-60 minutes per day. Certain exercises are better at burning energy than others. For example walking burns less calories per hour than skipping burns. Skipping is arguably the best high intensity, whole body workout you can do. Only 15 minutes of moderate skipping burns as many calories as most other exercises do in an hour

One way to break the sedentary pattern of the lives that many families lead is to arrange family activities that involve plenty of movement. Maybe a family bike ride, taking the dog for a walk each evening, a game of ball in the park, swimming together, playing Wii sports together (ideal for teenagers who love console games), If you like dancing, a Zumba workout is an ideal high intensity workout. Not only do these activities burn calories, they can also serve as settings for family communication. This is especially important in teenage years, when opportunities for parents to interact with their teenagers are at a premium.

4. How to encourage healthy behavior in teenagers

The best way to help an overweight or obese teenager is by providing a strong role model. Even though it seems like teenagers don’t listen to their parents, their parents in fact provide them with a very powerful role model so it is important to lead by example. Forget the old, hypocritical attitude of ‘do as I say, not as I do!’. You didn’t respect that as a teenager and neither will your teenager do other than what you do yourself. No parent can expect their teenager to turn off the TV when they themselves are watching television in another room, or to turn off the computer when they are spending hours surfing the web themselves. Nor should they restrict the food portions of their teenager when they do not monitor their own eating habits. Why would a teenager want to drink water or snack on fruit & vegetables, when they see their parents drinking sugar laden soda and munching on potato chips?

When looking to improve eating and exercise habits, it should be done one day at a time, but the end result is well worth the effort.

source : weightlosstips4kids


Post a Comment