Teen Talk: Teens & Obesity

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Posted at 8:00 AM, Sep 14, 2015
and last updated 2016-07-04 11:42:57-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and among teens obesity has tripled over the last 30 years.

Family therapist Jane Marks joined us for another Teen Talk about teen obesity. She says it's is a number one health concern among parents in the United States, topping even drug abuse and smoking.  

Here's her advice for parents:

1. Have a conversation with your teen to insure your teen buys into whatever plan or approach you are going to use to address weight issues.  If you come up with a plan and don’t include your teen as part of the process, the risk factors for lack of success are certainly there.

2. Encourage healthy eating habits.  Small changes can lead to a recipe for successes as far as including more fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Encourage your child to eat breakfast every day.  Limit soft drinks.

3. Start with changes at home.  Cook more meals at home than eating out or getting take out from restaurants.  Do you provide healthy, rich opportunities as opposed to stimulating foods?  Certainly culture plays a big part in all of this.

4. Parents, take a look at your own lifestyle and the kinds of meals that you prepare.  Do you remove calorie rich temptations?  Treats are okay in moderation but limiting high fat and high sugar or salty snacks can help in the management of healthy eating. Remember, out of sight out of mind.

5. Expect imperfection. Understand, overweight teens don’t want to feel that way or be that way.  But sometimes it feels like they have no control over it.  Remember, the more your child is engaged in this process the healthier it is going to be.

6. Exercise is a huge part.  Achievable goals may be 10 minutes a day as opposed to 45 minutes a day which is what we encourage all of our patients to take part in .  To the extent that you can have your family involved.  That would be terrific.

7. Occasionally some insurance companies will support weight management programs.  That’s not to say that this should be your “go to” first rather it should be after medical clearance and with a doctor’s advice.

8. Parents, be mindful of trying to change everything at one time.  That can be overwhelming.  Break it down into steps.  If for example, when the children were young you had lots of sweets in the house you may want to just take away a few as opposed to getting rid of everything at one time.

9. Parents, be careful about over functioning or micro-managing this process for your youngster.  They’re going to be slip ups when working on this but remember it is a work in progress particularly if this has been a long standing issue.

10. Parents, stress positive body image examples.  There are many people who are very comfortable with the added weight.  The idea of plus size models is also something to emphasize that losing a little weight as opposed to trying to become skinny may be something you want to focus on and certainly you get away from the issue of your child just focusing on the obesity factor but rather on just a more positive body image.

11. Find a healthy lifestyle coach.  Perhaps it’s you, perhaps it’s your parents, or perhaps it is bringing in a dietitian.  It is important too in finding a coach that you develop incentives.