What you should NOT say to help your teen lose weight

There are many things not to tell your teen if you want them to lose weight.

According to the American Academic of Pediatrics (AAP), choosing the wrong approach can increase their risk of developing unhealthy habits or an eating disorder.

The new report published in the journal Pediatrics reads, “The focus should be on a healthy lifestyle rather than on weight.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that nearly 35 % of American teens between the ages of 12-19 are overweight or even worse, obese.

However, eating disorders are another big problem. As a matter of fact, eating disorders are the 3rd most common condition in young people after asthma and obesity. And teens with higher weight can be more vulnerable than parents may think.

Unhealthy weight loss methods can lead to grave consequences. 

Teenagers who lose weight through unhealthy eating habits like abuse of laxatives, purging after meals, or very low-calorie fad diet, may wind up facing a series of health problems. Harmful consequences of these unsafe weight loss methods can include hypotension (an abnormally low blood pressure), bradycardia (slower than average heart rate), hypothermia (low body temperature), gallstones, and acute pancreatitis in many teens.

AAP says that seemingly harmless comments on the weight of teens – their measurement on a scale or appearance –when speaking with them can be dangerous and may even result in triggering unhealthy eating behaviors.

 “Understanding that poor body image can lead to an ED [eating disorder], parents should avoid comments about body weight and discourage dieting efforts that may inadvertently result in EDs and body dissatisfaction,” says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

To prevent this, parents and pediatricians need to focus on imbibing healthy lifestyle habits in young people, such as healthy eating and doing exercise.

A spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Kristi King, said that the guidelines put out by the AAP are consistent with what happens in pediatrician’s offices every day.

“I frequently find in practice that when families or a pediatrician is very weight-focused, the child or teen tends to become very fixated on reaching a certain weight point. Most of the time, it is a weight goal that they think sounds’ good’ and isn’t necessarily what may be healthy for their height, age, activity level, etc. This can lead to very unhealthy lifestyle habits for them to reach that weight point,” said Kristi.

According to her, the patients who tend to have excellent outcomes in their weight loss ventures are usually those whose families focus on overall healthy habits.

She recommends that parents should encourage a positive body image in their teens rather than just focusing on weight loss. It can be done by asking them how they feel about their bodies and talking about the importance of all groups of food in their everyday lives.

Do not use words like fat, diet, and goal weight.

Kristi said, “Focusing on weight – even little comments such as ‘Ooh, I see a little tummy pouch there’ – can be damaging.”

Here are the tips for encouraging a healthy lifestyle in young people:

  • Watch what you say. Teens tend to notice every little thing. If, at an early age, they hear their parents say things such as “I don’t like my fat thighs,” they’ll be more likely to look for negatives in themselves when they grow up. Though they may seem harmless, words can leave long-lasting emotional scars on teens. So you need to avoid saying something like “you are fat” or “you are lazy.”
  • Aim for a family meal per day. If you can’t have a family dinner because of extracurricular activities or busy schedules, you should ensure the whole family at least have breakfast together. This family meal may mean waking up some minutes early, but it still actualizes the same goals. 
  • Stock up on veggies and fruits. Please make sure they are clean and placed at eye level so that your kids can grab them quickly. 
  • Get your children involved in the kitchen. See this as a chance to teach them how to cook. Begin by shopping and selecting new healthy foods to try. Take your kids to the kitchen and try a new recipe together. By doing this, you will not only be teaching them new skills but also creating beautiful memories together. 
  • Remove the TV from your children’s room. A lot of teens like to eat and watch television in their room. Removing the TV will reduce the time they spend on the screen and encourage more family time.
  • Schedule exercises or physical activities as part of the family’s together routine. Make games, hikes, bike rides, runs, walks, part of your family’s weekly schedule. This family priority will set an example that being active is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Be a great role model. If you want your children to eat vegetables, you need to take them too. Likewise, when you want them to do exercise, they need to see you doing the same. 

If you are looking for a healthy approach to teen weight loss, consider programs such as our Ideal Protein teen program. Learn more here and let us be a part of your teen’s positive weight loss support team.