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Teen Weight Loss Secrets

Successful teen dieters reveal their weight loss strategies.

How Parents Can Help Teens With Weight Loss continued...

 "The hardest part about helping kids lose weight is resistant parents who don’t want to change their own behavior," says Boutelle.

Experts agree that it's a bad idea for parents to nag or say things like, 'Haven’t you had enough?'" to their overweight teens. Instead, let your children know you are there for them and willing to help -- then back off and let them decide when they're ready. 

"Parents need to give their kids some space without feeling like they are giving up on them," says Gilbert.  "When parents are overbearing, their suggestions backfire, and the teen misses out on the important motivation that comes from making decisions for yourself." 

Experts advise talking to them about the pros and cons of being overweight. But use examples they can relate to. For example, talk about the impact their excess weight will have in gym class, not on their health. 

"They could care less about health or what is going to happen in 10 years," says Boutelle. "They live in the present."

Teens should also be involved in the process, Fletcher says.

"Ask them to help decide which snacks and foods should be on the grocery list and which ones should we eliminate for the entire family, not just the overweight teen," says Fletcher.

One of the best things you can do for overweight teens is to help them feel good about themselves, experts say. And one way to do this is to help them cultivate their assets and strengths.

"If you can help your child feel good about herself, it will empower her and help her resist the torment," says Fletcher.

And a teen who feels empowered is more likely to tackle a weight issue.

Exercise for Teen Weight Loss

Model behaviors are not limited to the kitchen.

"Active parents usually breed active kids, so if you want your kids to become more physical, lead the way," says Boutelle.

She also suggests turning off the television and limiting computer time. Parents may want to reconsider allowing teens to have TVs in their bedrooms.

"Studies show that kids who spend hours in front of screens are more sedentary, and to make it worse, there is a strong tendency to be snacking mindlessly while sitting," says Boutelle.

Keeping It Off

For virtually all the teens profiled in Weight Loss Confidential, regular exercise has become a way of life.

"Exercise, a healthy diet, and changing behaviors is what is going to make a difference and help kids lose weight and keep it off," says Boutelle. 

Fletcher asked teens what helped them resist falling back into bad habits.

"The overwhelming response: These kids did not want to return to the painful days when they were overweight."  She adds, "The kids are also happier, more self-confident, enjoying an improved quality of life, and feeling better in general." 

Fletcher’s son, Wes, agrees.  "I'm simply happier in a lot of ways. I have less anxiety about my appearance, my weight is no longer ever-present in the back of my mind, I feel healthier, have more energy, and have learned to enjoy many new kinds of foods," he says.

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