About 35 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. are classified as overweight or obese, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, eating disorders are also a big problem. In fact, they are the third most common chronic condition in adolescents after obesity and asthma, the AAP points out.
If you want your teen to lose weight, the American Academy of Pediatrics has some advice: Don’t tell them that. Doing so may raise their risk of developing unhealthy habits or even an eating disorder, the AAP states in new recommendations published online this week.
Healthy lifestyle in teens:
- Watch your words. Kids and teens are very perceptive. If they hear parents say from an early age things like “I hate my fat thighs,” they will be more attuned to looking for the negatives in themselves. Words can leave emotional scars, so be cautious of saying things such as “you’re lazy” or “you’re fat.”
- Aim for at least one family meal per day. If you find family dinner isn’t always feasible due to extracurricular activities or an otherwise busy schedule, aim for family breakfast. It might mean getting up a few minutes earlier, but it still accomplishes the same goals.
- Have fruits and vegetables readily available on the counter or fridge. Leave them washed and at eye level so it’s easy for kids to grab and go.
- Get kids involved in the kitchen. Even if you as a parent “can’t cook,” think of this as an opportunity to learn together. Start by shopping and picking out new healthy foods to try. Get in the kitchen and try a new recipe together. Not only will you will be teaching skills, you’ll be making great memories together.
- Take the TV out of your kids’ room. Many children and teens tend to eat and watch TV in their rooms. Taking the TV out will limit their screen time and encourage more family time.
- Schedule physical activity as part of your family’s routine. Make walks, runs, games, bike rides, or hikes part of your weekly schedule. This sets a great example that being active is part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Be a good role model. If you want your kid to eat their veggies that means you need to eat them, too. If you want them to exercise, they’ve got to see you doing it.