Preventing Overweight Teens

Preventing overweight teens includes education about early childhood obesity, healthy lifestyles, and proper diets. Discovering teen eating disorders early is key to preventing teenage weight problems and serious health risks associated with eating disorders.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 17 percent of the youth between the ages of 12 and 19 are overweight. Additionally, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that by 2020, the teens that overweight now will translate into more than 30 percent of a 35 year old adults. It is clear that something needs to be done in order to prevent overweight teens, and to help those that are already overweight.


The first step that government agencies are taking in an attempt to stymie the growth of the number of teenagers that are overweight or obese is to educate them and their parents. This is important. By getting the word out about potential problems associated with being overweight, as well as educating teens and their parents about things they can do to be healthier, it is possible to help prevent some teenagers from becoming overweight.


One of the best ways to reduce the number of overweight teens is to increase their levels of activity. One of the problems that has been cited in the increase in overweight and obese teens is the prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle. Many teenagers spend a lot of time on the computer, playing video games and watching TV or movies.

Indeed, this recreation time is more abundant than at any other time in history. Teenagers have access to a wider variety of entertainments at home, and may of them take advantage of that, rather than seeking entertainment outside.

Teenagers can be encouraged to participate in sports, as well as do activities with the family. Allowing teenagers to interact with their peers through sports, as well as doing activities together as a family, can make more active pastimes desirable. Additionally, there are now video games the encourage activity. The Nintendo Wii is a good example. There are interactive games that require children to get up and be active. There are also other video games, like Dance Dance Revolution that encourage movement.

Food and beverages

There is an abundance of junk food available now. Additionally, the increase in the amount of soda and other sugary, high calorie drinks has contributed to overweight teens. Portion sizes are larger as well, increasing calorie count without providing an indication that there are more calories being consumed. This is especially important in terms of soda. One serving is a 12 ounce can, but most teenagers have at least a 20 ounce serving, and there are larger 32 and 44 ounce fountain versions. Just cutting out soda can make a big difference in limiting the numbers of overweight and obese teens.

Part of preventing overweight teens is teaching proper teen nutrition and healthy eating habits. Try to avoid having a lot of junk food in the house. Limit sodas and sugary drinks. This is most easily done by replacing what is in the house with healthier alternatives. Dried fruit and lightly flavored water can take the place of chips and soda. Make sure that the healthy foods are easy for teenagers to access. Choose foods that do not require a lot of prep time: baby carrots, grapes, apples and celery sticks. Teenagers are more likely to choose healthy foods if they are available and visible. Keep the junk food hidden away.

Set an example

One of the best things you can do for your teenager is to set the example. In order to prevent an increase in overweight teens, it is important that they feel they are not alone. Also, teenagers like to see that they are not being required to do something that you wouldn’t do. Set the example of healthy eating and lifestyle.

Instead of eating junk while your teens eat healthy, grab some grapes and baby carrots as well. And plan family activities together. When you are active with your teen, you are not only creating a healthier family, but you are also creating lasting memories.

Emphasize the lifestyle

While setting an example, it is important to emphasize a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight and preventing teen obesity is not an event. It should be something that is lived. Indeed, it is important to develop healthy habits, rather than try to take care of the problem all at once. It is also important to emphasize that losing weight can be taken to unhealthy extremes. This is why health needs to be focused on above thinness. You do not want to give your teenager the idea that it is better to be thin than healthy. After all, that can lead to a whole new set of eating and weight problems.

It may be slower going, but taking the time to create a healthy lifestyle will have long ranging and more permanent effects.

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