Weight loss can be a struggle for most people, especially adolescents and teens.
Physical Activity Guidelines
The US government’s fitness guidelines for teenagers is 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. According to USA Today, a new study reveals, “Only one in four adolescents ages 12-15 are physically active for at least 60 minutes daily.”
The scientist that led the recent weight loss study is Tala Fakhouri, an epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fakhouri told USA Today, “These statistics are important because research shows that physical-activity behaviors in childhood often continue into adulthood,”
The drop in physical activity for teens and adolescence comes at a time in their lives that they are already under a lot of pressure. “They are going through a lot of physical and emotional changes, along with increasing social distractions and academic pressures,” says Michael Bergeron, executive director of the National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute, a partnership between Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D., and the American College of Sports Medicine.
Young people, as well as adults, need to stay active. Human beings are designed to be moving and working. Sitting around and stuffing your face is a form of human perversion. “Studies show that regular exercise promotes overall physical health in children, increasing their lean muscle mass and strengthening their bones,” Fakhouri says. “It also boosts their self-esteem and capacity for learning. Some studies have shown that physical activity helps teenagers deal with stress.”
Teen Weight Loss Struggles
“Preliminary results show that teens who lost weight were motivated more by the desire to feel better about themselves and get healthier than by social pressure or parental encouragement,” says Elissa Jelalian, one of the founders of the adolescent registry and an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown.
Olivia Tilini is a teenage girl who recently lost 55 pounds. According to USA Today this is her advice to other young folks who are struggling with weight loss: “Never give up. You have to put all your focus into weight loss. Do whatever it takes. It’s so worth it. You feel so good about yourself.”
Tilini is a member of the Adolescent Weight Control Registry, a project by weight loss researchers at Brown University. They have been studying the behaviors of people ages 14 to 20 who have lost 10 pounds or more and kept it off at least a year. According to Elissa Jelalian, one of the founders of the adolescent registry and an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown, “Preliminary results show that teens who lost weight were motivated more by the desire to feel better about themselves and get healthier than by social pressure or parental encouragement.”
How Can Parents Help
The decision to become healthier and achieve weight loss is a personal one. Even with parent support, the young person still has to decide for themselves that they are going to follow a healthier eating and exercise plan.
Teenagers can’t succeed at weight loss alone. Parents have to buy healthy foods and beverages and set a good example, and create a healthy environment at home. When parents succeed at weight loss, their children are more likely to succeed. When a teen has overweight parents, it’s often very difficult for that teen to lose weight.
The habits of teens who successfully lost weight according to The Weight and Diabetes Research Control Center:
• 90% exercised.
• 88% increased intake of fruits and vegetables and reduced sweets.
• 85% reduced portion sizes
• 73% reduced intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.
• 67% regularly weighed themselves.
• 52% counted calories.