Do Diets Help or Hurt Teens Weight Loss Efforts?

If you are parent with an overweight teenager, it can be difficult to know how to help them achieve a healthy weight.  While it is important to help guide teenagers and teach them about the importance of proper nutrition, putting pressure on them to diet may cause more harm than good.  According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, “parents who encouraged their teenagers to diet increased the likelihood that their teen would be overweight 5 years later”.

So does that mean that you should not address the issue of weight with your teenager?  No, it is important to teach teens how to make good food choices to maintain/achieve a healthy weight, and there is no one better to do that than their parents.  However, encouraging healthy eating habits instead of diets may produce better results.  After all, diets don’t work for adults, so why would they work for teenagers?

Some areas to encourage more healthful behaviors are the following:

  • Increasing fruits and vegetables
  • Decreasing sodas and sugary snacks
  • Having more family meals
  • Eating less food/meals in front of the television.
  • Switching from high-fat dairy products and meats to low-fat products
  • Making healthy choices when eating outside the home
  • Increasing physical activity

Be a role model for your children.  Actions speak louder than words, and the healthy eating habits can only benefit the entire family.    

Reference: C. Marino. Parents Likely to Pressure Overweight Teens to Diet.  FitBits Monthly Research Review.  June 15, 2008.