Healthy Tips for Parents of Obese Teens
Obese teens are at risk of health issues ranging from joint problems to type 2 diabetes. They are also at a higher risk of depression and social isolation. Your teen is gradually becoming his own person, but he is still in dire need of parental support as he learns to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Teen obesity is nothing to shrug off. As of 2008, nearly a third of all kids and teens were overweight or obese, tripling the statistic of1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, numbers of teens are developing adult health problems such as type 2 diabetes and obese teens are more likely than their peers to suffer academically and socially. If your teen is obese, you can help him turn his life around by giving him the resources and emotional support that he needs in order to lose weight.
Get Medical Advice
Check in with a doctor before you try to help your teen lose weight. If your teen has a few extra pounds on her body, that doesn’t necessarily make her obese. In fact,your teen’s pediatrician won’t use the term “obese” until your teen’s weight is at least 10 percent over the recommended weight for her height and body type, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Encouraging your teen to lose weight when she is still in a healthy weight range can cause long-term physical and emotional damage. On the other hand, obese teens are at great risk of becoming obese adults. Early intervention is the key to preventing severe consequences down the line. If your teen’s doctor does determine that your teen is obese, he will ask questions and he may conduct some tests to determine whether your teen’s obesity is caused by a physical disorder, lifestyle choices, or both. In either case, lasting weight loss is achievable but your teen will need your support to set and reach a healthy weight goal.
Be the Voice of Reason
If your teen is obese, chances are he is more aware of this fact than anyone else. Your teen may be emotionally drained by low self-esteem, whether or not he is directly being bullied about his physical appearance. Although your teen is maturing by the day, he still may not have the foresight to understand the negative repercussions of following fad diets, taking diet pills, and buying into other “quick fix” remedies. These alleged weight loss strategies can be dangerous, and they aren’t effective long-term solutions They are especially risky for growing teens. Your teen is gradually becoming his own person and you can’t force him to make healthy choices all the time. Rather, your primary job is to be a voice of reason and to use supportive language when discussing weight loss. Talk to your teen about his weight in terms of healthy versus unhealthy rather than fat versus thin. Speak rationally and openly about consequences of trying quick fixes instead of making healthy lifestyle changes. Tell your teen that you will support him every step of the way, but emphasize that he is ultimately responsible for making choices for his own body.
Set Clear, Reasonable Goals
Losing weight can be easier said than done, especially for a teen who is busy with academic obligations and a social life. Your teen may want to set lofty goals, such as losing 50 pounds in the four months, but encourage her to create goals that are healthy as well as realistic for her lifestyle. The Mayo Clinic generally recommends setting a weight loss goal of no more than about 1 to 2 pounds per week, or a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories a day. Consider the doctors recommendations when helping your teen set short-term and outcome goals. Whatever the goals are, they should be specific. For instance, your teen could start out by cutting back to one soda a day and going for a 10-minute walk each day in the first week, and work up to jogging 30 minutes a day and replacing most soda with bubbly water. Help your teen stay accountable by jotting these goals down on a calendar or a journal.