Teens and Weight Loss

Teens and Weight Loss

Teens live life to the extreme at times. Learn how to lose weight in a healthy way for safer and longer-lasting results.

By Eric Leins, Staff Writer, myOptumHealth

Here are a few facts. One of the strongest predictors of heart attacks, stroke and other serious illnesses is adult obesity. And one of the strongest predictors of adult obesity is adolescent obesity. In fact, seven in 10 obese teenagers will become obese adults. So it's clearly important for teens to take off those extra pounds, but it's even more critical to do it safely and in a way that leads to long-lasting results. Here are some things you need to know:

The pros of protein. Research that compares large groups of teens who have lost weight with large groups of teens that have not lost weight shows that eating protein matters. The teens who lost weight had a significantly greater amount of their calories coming from protein, instead of carbohydrates or fats.

Must see (less) TV. Research shows that teens who have lost weight watch four hours a week less TV and videos than teens who did not lose weight. They also spend fewer hours a week in front of screens of any kind, including TV, video games and computers.

Step on the scale. In a recent study, teens who lost weight weighed themselves more often than teens who didn't lose weight. For example, nearly 40 percent of teens who lost weight weighed themselves at least once a week.

Strategy matters. There's more than one way to lose weight. For overweight teens, though, research shows that a moderate approach is effective for the largest number of people. This means eating fewer calories, exercising more, eating less high-fat food, drinking less soda and more water, and replacing junk food with fruits and vegetables. Extreme dieting (using laxatives, smoking instead of eating, vomiting and fasting, liquid diets, carb-free diets, etc.) may cause some short-term weight loss but is just plain dangerous.

More healthy weight-loss tips for teens

  • Don't stress. OK, if you're a teen, you're going to stress out sometimes. But learn how to manage it through things like yoga, getting more sleep and talking out problems with people you trust.
  • Eat right. That doesn't just mean eating healthy. It means eating without the TV on, sitting at a table when you eat, eating at home more than eating out, and not skipping meals.
  • Be alternative. If you like to listen to music, don't just sit there. Get up and dance with your friends. If you like going to the mall, don't find parking as close as possible to your favorite store. Instead, do the opposite, so you have to walk more. If you are inside a large building, take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Sources:

  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Physical activity for teens. Accessed: 07/21/2010
  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Healthy weight for teens. Accessed: 07/21/2010
  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Snacking and fast food for teens. Accessed: 07/21/2010
  • Boutelle KN, Libbey H, Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M. Weight control strategies of overweight adolescents who successfully lost weight. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109:2029-2035.

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