Childhood obesity is a continuously growing problem in our society today. The percentage of teens who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. In 2004, almost 1 in 5 teens were overweight. Poor eating habits, less physical activity, and emotional stress are contributing factors to the dramatic increase in teen obesity. Teen boys and girls need to be taught the proper way to eat and exercise in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle now and as an adult.
The social and emotional fallout of being overweight can be devastating for a teenager. It can also be frustrating for them because it is a challenge to lose weight and not feel different from their peers. Weight and body issues are an extremely delicate subject especially for teenage girls. Remind your teen that there is no single ideal weight and no perfect body. Encourage them to focus on practicing behaviors that promote a healthy weight and lifestyle instead of focusing on “fat” and “thin”. Help your teen understand that losing weight, and keeping it off, is a lifetime commitment and is important so they will decrease their risk of developing future health problems as an adult, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
A nutritious breakfast will give your teen the energy he or she needs to face the day. It may be hard to convince them to get up earlier in order to have a healthy breakfast but it is important. Not only will it give them more energy to start the day, but will also keep them from eating too much later in the day. Even a piece of string cheese or a small handful of nuts or a piece or two of fruit will help if they are in a hurry. Medifast has some wonderful options for teens on the go. They have a wonderful nutritional program for teens who are fighting obesity and also for those who just need to be taught how to stick to a balanced diet every day.
Teen boys should consume approximately 1,800 calories per day, while teen girls should consume approximately 1,600 calories per day. Every meal should include at least one fruit or one non-starchy vegetable, one source of grains and one source of protein. At least half of the grains you eat throughout the day should be whole grains, such as whole wheat bread and brown rice. Most of the protein should come from a low-fat source, such as chicken, fish, skim dairy, beans, or a lean cut of meat. Throw some nutritious snacks in your backpack and eat them between meals to avoid overeating at mealtimes. Some examples of on-the-go healthy snacks are apples, whole grain pretzels or try some of the delicious Medifast snacks.
It is very important for teens to stay active, as well as get plenty of sleep at night. Enjoy exercising by doing some of your favorite activities with friends or playing sports. Exercise does not have to be boring. Playing basketball, volleyball, hiking, swimming and outdoor sports such as paintball, are all fun ways to exercise. Not only will these activities help you lose weight and stay healthy, but they will also tire your body and mind out and allow you to sleep better at night. Teens need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day, but you do not have to do it all at once. Any activity, even in 10 minute bursts, is better than none. Also, strength exercises or weight training will help you safely build muscle. Building muscle is another great way to lose fat.