Like adults in the U.S., teens are also struggling with their weight, with obesity rates quadrupling over the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, because teens are still growing, they cannot follow the same type of weight-loss diet as adults. There are a number of free weight-loss programs that can teach your teen how to make better food choices to help her gain control over her weight and health.
WIN: Take Charge of Your Life
The Weight-Control Information Network, or WIN, has a free booklet designed for teens that teaches them how to take charge of their health through diet and exercise. The booklet includes information on how food affects the body, tips for eating better and fun ways to get more exercise. The booklet also offers suggestions on how to make habits stick, such as taking things slowly and being realistic about expectations. It also includes a food chart and a sample menu.
Let's Move is a program started by First Lady Michelle Obama and is meant to help solve the childhood obesity epidemic. The program is divided into five steps geared toward getting teens to be more active and eat better. The first step is getting teens to be active for 60 minutes every day and encourages families to do it together. Step two suggests teens try a new fruit and veggie, while step three recommends drinking more water. Kids spend too much time in front of the computer or television set, says Let's Move. To burn calories and get more activity, the fourth step of the Let's Move program suggests active breaks, such as jumping jacks or situps, during computer and television time. The final step of the Let's Move program is to have your teen help plan meals, shop and cook.
Fuel Up to Play 60
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a program designed by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League that encourages students to be more active and eat better to earn points and prizes such as tickets to the Super Bowl. Students sign up for the program and track their good habits online. The site also offers tools and games to help teens set goals and stay motivated. The site also acts as a social network, connecting teens in the community through local activities and events.
Healthy Weights for Healthy Teens
If your teen is looking for a simple diet program that offers tips and suggestions on how to make better choices, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers a guide that may help. The guide is divided into four sections and includes tips on how to set realistic goals, make better food choices, control portions and fit in not-so-healthy favorite foods. AND suggests teens keep it simple, such as swapping out their empty-calorie soda for nutrient-rich nonfat milk or calorie-free water or satisfying their sweet tooth with frozen grapes or berries.
Helping Your Teen
Weight may be a sensitive subject for your teen, and to promote a healthy body image, it's important to focus on your teen's health and not weight. The goal of a teen weight-loss program is to reduce the rate of weight gain, says the CDC. You can help your teen, and the rest of the family, eat better by keeping the kitchen stocked with healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy proteins and low-fat dairy and limiting the junk.