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How Busy Teens Can Lose Weight

By Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D. ; Updated July 18, 2017

Juggling school, homework, extracurricular activities and a social life is no easy task for teens -- and makes free time rare, or nonexistent. Despite your teen’s hectic schedule, he or she can still successfully achieve a healthy weight. Using practical weight-loss strategies is a great way to help busy, overweight teens move toward healthier body weights.

Boost Physical Activity

Focusing on calorie intake can be tedious and time-consuming, but more physical activity is something even busy teens can fit into their daily schedule. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest teenagers participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, including muscle-strengthening exercises three days or more weekly. Teens don’t have to complete the full 60-minute sessions at one time. They can exercise in 10- or 20-minute increments throughout the day. For example, walk to and from school, lift weights for 20 minutes, bike to a friend’s house, play basketball with friends or join a sports team.

Eat Fruits and Veggies

Since fruits and vegetables are filling yet often contain few calories, they are an excellent choice for busy overweight teens seeking weight loss. suggests teens get a minimum of five servings of fruits and veggies, or a total of 2.5 cups, per day. also notes that many experts recommend teens eat more than 2.5 cups of fruits and veggies daily. Start by choosing a fruit, vegetable or both at each meal and snack over the course of the day.

Cut Sugary Drinks

A review published in 2008 in the “Journal of School Nursing” found a positive correlation between increased sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and a rise in teen obesity. Choosing water instead of soda, juice, lemonade, iced tea or other sugary drinks is an excellent way for overweight teens to move toward a healthy weight. Drinking water before meals helps boost satiety, making it less likely teens will overeat at mealtime.

Get Enough Sleep

Making sleep -- preferably high-quality sleep -- a priority maximizes a busy overweight teen’s chance of reaching a healthy weight. According to a 2007 study published in the “Journal of Adolescent Health,” increased sleep time is associated with lower body mass indexes in adults and children, and disruptions in sleep are associated with higher BMIs in teenagers. Researchers who conducted this study report that while teens generally sleep 7.6 hours nightly on school nights, they often require 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep every night.

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