Teen Weight Loss: Weight Management Programs continued...
Pediatric weight management centers in a hospital or separate center. These may be similar to programs in medical offices and offer the support of several experts.
Immersion camps or schools for teens. These programs are not like traditional "fat camps." They're intended to change a child's behavior as much as help him lose weight. While many kids lose weight at fat camps -- because of a low-calorie diet and increased physical activity -- they tend to gain it back afterward. Immersion programs help kids learn ways to eat healthier and to exercise that they can apply when they get home and back to their "real lives." While joining one of these programs might be a tough decision for you and your teen, it could really help in the long run.
Although not teen-specific, commercial programs like Weight Watchers will accept kids 10 to 16 with written medical permission. TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) offers nonprofit group support and may allow kids.
Of course, talk with your pediatrician before you enroll your teen in any weight loss program. Weight loss may not be a safe choice for teens who have not reached their adult height. Also make sure your teen has developed the maturity to participate in such programs, since they may involve mostly interaction and support from adults.
Teen Weight Loss: Other Treatment Options
What happens if these steps don't help your teen manage his weight? Then you and your teenager -- with a health care provider's input -- might consider some other treatment options for obesity in teens.
Medication. There are no prescription weight-loss medicines currently recommended for teens. Weight-loss medicines can have serious health risks and side effects. If you're curious about the use of medication or supplements for teen weight loss, talk with your pediatrician. Many overweight teens experiment with over-the-counter weight loss pills. These supplements are ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. If your teen is taking any, talk with him about the risks, and strongly encourage him to talk with a health care provider or a pharmacist about potential negative effects.
Surgery. An operation to reduce the size of the stomach can help (morbidly or extremely) obese teens who haven't been able to lose weight any other way. It can be effective, but it has potentially serious risks. This procedure also may not be covered by insurance. Be aware that surgery, on its own, won't cure obesity in teens. Your child will need to follow a special diet -- and be vigilant for signs of nutritional deficiencies -- for the rest of his life. This step should be taken only after careful consideration and a full evaluation by a team of child obesity experts.