Teen Weight Loss Secrets (cont.)

And a teen who feels empowered is more likely to tackle a weight issue.

Exercise for Teen Weight Loss

Model behaviors are not limited to the kitchen.

"Active parents usually breed active kids, so if you want your kids to become more physical, lead the way," says Botelle.

She also suggests turning off the television and limiting computer time. Parents may want to reconsider allowing teens to have TVs in their bedrooms.

"Studies show that kids who spend hours in front of screens are more sedentary, and to make it worse, there is a strong tendency to be snacking mindlessly while sitting," says Botelle.

Keeping It Off

For virtually all the teens profiled in Weight Loss Confidential, regular exercise has become a way of life.

"Exercise, a healthy diet, and changing behaviors is what is going to make a difference and help kids lose weight and keep it off," says Botelle.

Fletcher asked teens what helped them resist falling back into bad habits.

"The overwhelming response: These kids did not want to return to the painful days when they were overweight." She adds, "The kids are also happier, more self-confident, enjoying an improved quality of life, and feeling better in general."

Fletcher's son, Wes, agrees. "I'm simply happier in a lot of ways. I have less anxiety about my appearance, my weight is no longer ever-present in the back of my mind, I feel healthier, have more energy, and have learned to enjoy many new kinds of foods," he says.

Teen Weight Loss Wisdom

Botelle says that successful behaviors for teenage weight loss include:

  • Eating more fruits and vegetables
  • Eating more whole grains
  • Eating more low-fat dairy and lean meats
  • Eating less fat
  • Drinking less soda
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting on the scale weekly

For their part, parents can stock the house with healthy foods -- including some treats. They can also enjoy nutritious foods and engage in regular physical activity together with their teens. But while serving as good role models, parents should still allow teens to make their own choices. To succeed, teens need to take responsibility for what they eat and how often they exercise.

Parents may need some additional guidance to help overweight teens get to the stage where they are ready to lose weight. Health care professionals can provide suggestions that teens will listen to, as well as support for both parents and teens.

Published March 23, 2007.

SOURCES: Kerri Botelle, PhD, LP, assistant professor, University of Minnesota; director, STAR clinic for adolescent obesity and eating disorders. Anne Fletcher, MS, RD, author, Weight Loss Confidential and Thin for Life books. Wes Gilbert, college student. National Center for Health Statistics: "Prevalence of Overweight Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 2003-2004."

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Last Editorial Review: 3/23/2007