How can you help your teenager stay fit? Help them Learn Healthy Eating habits and promote Daily Activity.
It is important to teach your kids healthy eating habits at a young age.
Below are some helpful websites to help you promote healthy eating habits for your family:
You can also help your kids stay fit and healthy by keeping them active. Accommodate about an hour of physical activity into your child’s day (in addition to the physical activity class that they may get at school) and limit TV and other screen time to less than two hours per day. Make exercise a part of your teenager’s daily routine as early in life as possible. Those who are active by age 16 years are less likely to be inactive in adulthood.
Encourage your teenager to participate in a team or individual sport or exercise as a family, through walking or biking, to increase the amount of regular activity she does each day. Suggest she take the stairs rather than the elevator or go unload the groceries from the car. Of course, you have to take the stairs too! Remember, you are your teen’s best role model.
Many teenage girls think that they are overweight even when they are not. This is in part due to the fact that television shows and magazines are filled with abnormally thin women, which can give a girl the wrong idea about what is a healthy body weight. Children and adolescents should be taught to identify media messages that are inaccurate and unhealthy.
The body mass index (BMI) calculation can be used to see if your teen’s weight is healthy. It is comparison of weight (in pounds) to height (in inches).
A BMI calculator is available at: BMI Calculator
If your teen is at or above the 95th percentile, she is obese. If she is between the 85th percentile and the 94th percentile, she is overweight. In either case, you should talk with her and your health care provider about how she can reach a healthy body weight in a safe and effective manner.
Let your child know she is loved and appreciated whatever her weight. An overweight child probably knows better than anyone else that she has a weight problem. Overweight children need support, acceptance, and encouragement from their parents. Focus on your child’s health and positive qualities, not your child’s weight. Try not to make your child feel different if he or she is overweight, but focus on gradually changing your family’s physical activity and eating habits.
Overweight in children and adolescents is generally caused by lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of the two, with genetics and lifestyle both playing important roles as well. Being overweight can also put you at risk for many health problems. Overweight teenagers are at higher risk of irregular menstrual periods, asthma, high blood pressure levels, high cholesterol levels, and/or diabetes.
Weight loss is recommended only for adolescents in certain circumstances (eg, older overweight adolescents who have completed their growth [in height] or those with one or more medical conditions). In most cases, the goal is to slow the rate of weight gain while achieving normal growth and development.
The best ways are to eat healthier AND exercise more. Read the labels on foods. Remember that because a product is low fat, does not always mean it has fewer calories. Do not use diet pills or be fooled by fad diets. This is because, although teens may lose weight at first, most girls gain the weight back when they stop the fad diet or the pills.
Although most girls rely on dieting to lose weight, regular exercise is the key to helping your teenager reach her goal and stay a healthy weight. So your first priority should be to help your teenager to exercise regularly and then work to increase the length of time and intensity of exercise. Then a low-calorie diet can be added to an exercise routine as part of a weight loss program. Talk to your health provider about a healthy number of daily calories for your daughter that would be safe while still promoting weight loss. Also, if you have concerns, please also connect with your health care professional.
To help figure out if your teen or another person you know has an eating disorder, take the quiz at:
If your teen or someone you know has symptoms of an eating disorder, it is important to talk with them and a health care provider and get help.
People with eating disorders feel extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. The most common eating disorders include bulimia and anorexia. As in the case that you just viewed, bulimics tend to binge (eats a large quantity of food ) and purge (overeat and vomit, take laxatives, or exercise too much). They may be of normal or low body weight. Using chemical substances to make you vomit is very dangerous and can cause damage to your heart and or your throat.
Teenagers with anorexia nervosa do not eat enough to keep their bodies working normally. They are unable to keep their weight in a healthy range, which puts them at risk of serious medical complications, such as osteoporosis (weak bones) and death, if they do not get treatment. Teenagers who have signs of anorexia nervosa have an image disorder and so they think they are “fat” even though their body weight is below normal.
For More information on Eating Disorders, refer to: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/parent-toolkit.
Information Last updated January 2019
Disclaimer: All health information on Girlsmarts.org is for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking this because of something you have read on the Girlsmarts.org website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.