With 34% of kids aged 12-19 being overweight or obese and the peak onset of eating disorders occurring mid-adolescence, The American Academy of Pediatrics updated their guidelines on managing weight in teens and adolescence.
Families should stop talking about weight and avoid focusing on body dissatisfaction. Avoid making comments about your teens weight, your weight, or the weight of family or friends. Discourage dieting, skipping meals, and using weight loss pills or cleanses. Dieting is a risk factor for both obesity and eating disorders, as overweight adolescents may develop disordered eating behaviors while trying to lose weight.
Focusing on a healthy lifestyle should be made. Families should encourage healthy eating and physical activity behaviors that are sustainable long-term. Talk openly about clean burning fuel and focus on what makes the body feel better. Provide unconditional love and support regardless of size and appearance.
Provide easy access to healthy foods and water while limiting access to sweetened beverages, refined carbohydrates, junk food, and desserts. Remove TV’s from all bedrooms (including parents bedroom) and plan active excursions such as hiking and family bike rides.
Focus on family meals at the table without distractions (like smart phones). Model positive eating behaviors through leading by example. Strong evidence shows eating family meals 7 or more times each week improves nutrient intake, reduces disordered eating behaviors, reduces binge eating, and reduces frequent dieting.
Involving the entire family in positive ways has been show to be more effective in reducing teen obesity and eating disorders than a teen-only focus. Start making changes today for a lifetime of good health.
Active Family Ideas
Hiking nature trails
Plant a garden
Walking the dog