With frightening levels of overweight and obesity amongst children and young people all over the developed world, many parents are at a lose as to how they can help their teenagers lose weight.

Teenagers have a tough time of it, trying to establish an identity but wanting to fit in with the crowd at the same time is not easy. No-one wants to be significantly different or to be the object of other people's jokes.

So, if you are the parent of an overweight or obese teenager, you will need to act with great sensitivity if you are to help your child lose weight. Teenage obesity often leads to obesity in adult life and so it is important to take steps to overcome it. Here are some strategies you can try:

Strategy #1

Do some exercise with your kids. This should be fun and so look for an activity that the children enjoy, such as inline skating, snowboarding or windsurfing. If those are too adventurous for you, kicking a ball around the park, bicycle riding, swimming or just walking in the countryside are all good alternatives. The main thing is to make it something which your overweight teenager enjoys and looks forward to, not just in terms of exercise, but also as time with the family.

Strategy #2

Teach your teenager to cook. One of the best things which you can do as a parent is help your child become independent and ready to live in the adult world. One big step towards this is learning about the nutritional value of food and how to prepare nutritious food. Healthy meals don't have to be boring. So look for interesting recipes and cook them together. Allowing your teenager to choose and prepare meals will also help him to feel he is in control.

Strategy #3

Listen to your teenager - young people often try to cover up a lack of confidence with excess weight. So make sure you are there to talk through all of her problems, not just the ones relating to her need to lose weight.

If you help your teenager to lose weight, you are laying the foundation for a healthy adult life.

Sumathi Srini

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