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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

  This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff in collaboration with Sanford Health Systems.

A Parent's Place

Even though teenagers are often responsible for what food they choose to eat -- like in the school cafeteria -- and how much physical activity they do, parents still have a hand in their health.

He can't munch on cookies at home every day after school if there's only fruit and other healthy foods in the kitchen. She can't sit in front of the TV or computer all weekend if the family has plans to go hiking. 

"Kids learn basic philosophies -- like fruits and vegetables are good, sodas aren't great for you -- but we have to help them along the way," says Stephanie Walsh, MD, medical director of Child Wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Parents can suggest exercise classes a teen might like or sports he might try. Parents might encourage signing up for an activity with a friend because at this age, teens are much more likely to stay interested in an activity if they're involved with friends.

Bring in the Expert

Remember, that your teen is probably in the midst of puberty with an ever-changing body.

"The key is not to panic over a couple of pounds in either direction," says Walsh. "At this age, they have these fluctuations that are totally normal. Focusing on weight will only get you in trouble. Their weight may change but if their habits are good, that's what's important."

If you feel like you've made all the right healthy changes -- more nutritious foods and more activity -- but are still worried about weight issues with your teenager, then talk to his doctor. Make an appointment now, or plan to talk to her at your teen's next well checkup.

The doctor can measure your teen's height and weight to calculate his body mass index (BMI) and see if indeed your concerns are valid. Then she can talk to you about the measures you're taking -- diet and activity -- and offer more suggestions to make sure your family is taking all the best steps to stay healthy.

The doctor can also talk to your teen about food and exercise, reinforcing the message about the importance of healthy food and regular activity.

Weight and Teasing

Sometimes you have to directly address the issue of weight with your child because she is teased about it at school. If your teen mentions that she's been teased, explain how much you love her and find out how the teasing made her feel. Then work together on a plan to make her feel better while making healthy lifestyle changes.

 Get more tips on how to talk to your child when she's been teased about her weight.


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