Weight management for optimal health and wellbeing
Feeling unhappy about your weight? You are definitely not alone. Nearly 50% of teenagers are on a constant battle to change their shape and weight. No wonder that one in every
five adolescents are on a
diet at any given time.
Indeed, excess weight is a
major concern among
teenagers and a serious, widespread issue that can lead to health problems during
adolescence. It also increases the risk of obesity in adulthood and enhances the risk of developing diabetes,cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses.According to the NIH (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases),one in five adolescents (ages 12-19) are considered to have obesity while one in eleven to have extreme obesity. The safest and most reliable and effective way to help manage your current weight or lose weight is to adopt healthy habits. This includes both activities and
eating habits. Here is what you need to know to ensure you enjoy great health – emotional, mental, and physical – and a healthy, happy adolescent life.
The impact of excess weight on teenagers’ lives
The socio-psychological effect related to adolescent weight issues is enormous. Teenagers are often bullied and teased about their weight. Studies have also evidenced that a teen with an unhealthy weight is at much higher risk for an overall lower quality of life compared to a peer that has a normal/healthy weight. These children with excess weight usually have symptoms of depression and poor self-esteem. Pus, they are often teased and joked about their weight inside their family environment, which is particularly harmful to them.
Weight talk does NOT result in healthy decisions or weight loss among teens, even if all the talking has the best of intentions. On the contrary, research has shown that it can have a negative effect on the attempt to help the child manage their weight in a healthy way. We now know that weight talk and being bullied about weight are closely associated with:
- Unhealthy dieting habits (i.e., self induced vomiting, periods of starvation binge eating, and skipping meals to lose weight).
- Increased weight.
- Continued weight problems.
- A risk of eating disorders.
Common Misconceptions about Weight
Loss – Dieting Risks to Bear in Mind
Various studies have demonstrated that a considerable percentage of adolescents, girls, i particular, choose to control their weight usingunhealthybehaviours. A common weightcontrol strategy is self-induced vomit, while many teens also engage in crash diets,skipping meals, fasting, and taking diet pills, diuretics, or laxatives. Smoking cigarettes has also been reported as a preferred method to control weight among teens. Unfortunately,restricting calories and using laxatives or weight loss pills to lose weight is NOT the way to
deal with weight issues effectively as it has been shown to increase the risk of developing
eating disorders and obesity.
Dieting in this way (i.e., without the guidance of a nutritionist or dietician) can lead to:
Nutritional deficiencies, especially calcium and iron, which may result in long-term risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia (easy-to-break bones)
Psychological issues (i.e., irritability, binge eat, tendency to overeat, distractibility,food preoccupation, fatigue, negative self-esteem, etc.).
High risk of experiencing Bulimia Nevrosa or anorexia.
Excess weight gain over time.
Healthy Weight Management Tips
Your wellbeing and happiness is in your hands. You pull the strings. So, you only need to ensure you make healthy choices and engage in strategies that promote weight loss andanagement in a healthy way. For instance, increasing the intake of fruits, whole-grain foods, and vegetables is a great start. Combine it with increased exercise and reductions in fat intake, and you have a success recipe right there. Note, though, that the key here is moderation. Going to extremes is never a good sign and will only enable you to reach your goal (to lose weight) only for a short period of time. The idea is to lead a healthy lifestyle overall, not make short-lived decisions that will put you at a higher risk of developing a medical problem in the long run. For that reason, we strongly discourage:
- dietary supplements
- skipping meals
- fad diets
- weight-loss schemes that sell meal replacements, vitamin shots, pills, etc
There is absolutely no evidence that any of these options are effective or safe for teenagers and adolescents (or anybody else, to be honest). Instead, try to bring some
physical activity into your daily routine, which will not only help you lose weight but also make you feel energized and happy due to the hormones secreted during exercise. And, no, you don’t have to adopt a structured exercise program. You simply need to get moving.
So, activities like dancing, bicycling, walking, swimming, and bowling are great to help
improve fitness and burn calories. In this case, setting goals and monitoring your activity
levels through wearables (i. e., fitness trackers) can contribute to improving your selfesteem, as each goal you meet will be a reason to celebrate your success!
Also, consider the following:
- Eating breakfast – Studies have shown that teens who eat breakfast tend to have better eating habits and get more nutrients than those that skip it.
- Avoid sodas or sweet beverages – Stick to fat-free or low-fat milk, sparkling water, or water. Fizzy drinks and sugar, in general, should best be limited as much as possible.
- Avoid snacking in front of the TV – Spending lots of your time in front of a screen is linked to poor snack and beverage choices. You could prepare your meal and eat
it at the kitchen table, away from distractions (i.e., mobile phone, TV, etc.). That way, you give your brain the time it needs to process the whole
eating process and send the right signals when your body is satisfied with the amount of food intake.
- Reduce your portions – You can eat smaller portion sizes of dairy and meats while consuming larger amounts of whole grains, veggies, and fruits. This portion reduction, though, should best be guided by a licensed nutritionist or dietician.
- Don’t confuse “desirable weight” with “healthy weight” – There is a big
difference between wanting to be thinner to fit the body-perfect image sold on social media and wanting to lose enough weight to be healthy. The most reliable way to determine whether you are in a healthy weight range is by calculating BMI.
Where to Get Help with Weight Management
The NHS has introduced a weight loss programme that you could try. Many organisations
also offer healthy lifestyles programmes, such as Elk River Treatment.Also,paediatriciandeveloped programmes, such as the Medi-Weight Loss Adolescent Program, are excellentsources to seek assistance to lose (and manage) weight. Even a simple Google searchusing a term like “teenage weight loss programmes” or “teen weight management” will givegreat insight. Of course, seeking the guidance of a licensed dietician or nutritionist shouldbe on your list, as well.Managing your weight and feeling healthy and happy is within your fingertips. Take action now, and transform your life. You deserve and owe it to yourself!
Managing your weight and feeling healthy and happy is within your fingertips. Take action now, and transform your life. You deserve and owe it to yourself!