Since 1980, the percentage of children and teens in the US who are obese has tripled to 19%. The definition of obesity is defined as an excessive accumulation of body fat that results in someone being more than 20% heavier than their ideal body weight.
In addition to the 19% of children and teens who fall into the obese category, another 30% of this age group is classified as overweight. Based on this data, it’s clear that weight is an issue for many teens in the United States. While there are a number of explanations for this, a recent study found that many of the weight management strategies typically used with teens are counterproductive.
Why the AAP Wants Parents to Focus on Health
The American Academy of Pediatrics has had guidelines that address childhood obesity and eating disorders. However, what’s new about the information recently released by the AAP is that the two are often connected.
Research by the organization found that the majority of teenagers diagnosed with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia weren’t initially overweight. However, overweight teens who try to lose weight may develop eating disorders.
Excessive exercise, laxatives, diet pills or fasting are all examples of risky tactics a teen may utilize in an attempt to lose weight. The good news is parents can lessen the risk of those actions by steering teens away from the concept of dieting.
How Parents Should Talk to Teens About Weight
Even when dieting doesn’t go too far, the data shows that it’s generally not effective for teens. In fact, members of this age group who diet are more likely to end up overweight. What’s worse is things get even more complicated for teens who do go too far with their attempts at dieting.
If a teen is overweight, it’s possible for them to develop an eating disorder and parents to miss any signs of the disorder because the teen is not excessively thin. However, that doesn’t change the fact that teens can still experience complications often associated with anorexia like low blood pressure or an unstable heart rate.
So if dieting isn’t what parents should focus on with teens, how can they help a teen who is struggling with his or her weight? The first strategy is to get rid of junk food in the house and keep it stocked with plenty of healthy options.
The next is to eat together as a family as often as possible. Another is to encourage a positive body image. Encouraging this type of body image means not teasing teens about their weight. Although that may seem obvious, it can be easy to overlook for families who are used to constantly joking around with each other.
Kaner Medical Group offersweight management andadolescent healthcare services. So if you want to be sure that your teen is getting the right care from experienced professionals, we encourage you toschedule an appointment with us online.