Although overweight and obese adults may respond differently, obesity in children, especially teens, can be devastating! As an obese teenager weighing 245 pounds in high school, I was part of the growing trend of teenage obesity. While I suffered little from physical complications during growth and development, the social and psychological problems were tremendous. From discrimination, to embarrassing name calling, and bullying, dealing with my weight challenges as a teenager was disheartening to say the least.
Teenage obesity is a growing problem that needs immediate attention to reverse the trends. Without immediate action, the health of the nation and its longevity is at stake as we depend on our youth for the future.
As a parent or caregiver of an overweight or obese teenager, you may you are to blame and feel frustrated as you watch your child suffer. This is normal and shows your love for your child. However, you can take small daily steps to improve the health of your child and you by following these simple tips now.
Encourage healthy eating habits.
Just as you insist that your child stays clean and well-mannered, help your child eat healthily through encouragement. Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables while reducing or eliminating the junk food is one simple step to help your child improve healthy eating habits.
Weight loss is all about calories. The human body depends on a simple math equation of calories in must be less than calories out and the calories out must be 3500 to lose one pound. Because children need proper nutrition to grow and develop into healthy adults, dieting may cause nutritional deficits that can lead to lifelong problems such as improper bone and nerve development. Eliminating excess calories that exceed the daily requirements for your child’s age and size is one way to balance calories. You can also help balance calories by encouraging your child to move more. Increasing activity and earning “screen time” through completion of chores or homework are healthy ways for your child to burn calories to lose weight. Excessive “screen time” such as watching television and using the computer are known to lead to passive overeating and weight gain.
Be a good example.
Children learn by example and you are their number one teacher. Children trust their parents and caregivers to do the right thing. Children also will adopt the same habits as you through observation. Because your child trusts you, he or she will believe that the behavior is normal and mimic you. What’s worse is that your children may carry these unhealthy habits into adulthood. Unhealthy eating and overweight lead to illness, poor quality of life, and reduced life expectancy.
If you are overweight or sedentary, improve your habits first. Find ways to develop healthy habits that you can pass on to your child. Remember, the efforts you take today will affect your legacy for generations to come.