Being overweight is a common problem for adolescents in the United States. In 2006, the Center for Disease Control reported that 18 percent of adolescents between the ages of 12 to 19 were overweight. This is an alarming number considering overweight kids are at higher risks for heart disease and high blood pressure. If your young teenager is overweight, there are ways you can help.
Find out if your 13-year-old truly is overweight. This can be accomplished in part by knowing her Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a number calculated from her height and weight. Sex and age are also taken into consideration for teenagers. Your doctor can calculate her BMI. It is always a good idea to involve a health professional in determining a healthy weight for your child.
As a young teenager, your child is still growing. Unless recommended by a physician, restricting calories or putting him on a fad diet is not advised. Instead, encourage healthy eating habits. Carefully cut down on fat-laden and high-calorie foods, substituting healthier options. Eat together as a family whenever possible and do not use food as a reward. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water. Also keep plenty of his favorite fruits and vegetables in the house.
Look into what your child eats for lunch. In elementary school, kids don't have many choices for hot lunch. In junior high school, cafeterias offer lots of choices for your child’s lunch. Some of the choices aren’t healthy. Know what your child is eating, and encourage her to make smart choices.
Make sure your adolescent is getting the exercise he needs. It is recommended by the Surgeon General that adolescents get 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. Offer to play basketball or go for a jog. Encourage him to join a sports team. Join a family gym and play racquetball together. There are activities at most gyms to get your adolescent motivated to lose weight. Keep in mind, however, that young adolescents should not be lifting heavy weights. This can damage their growing bodies.
Remember to keep your child motivated in a positive way. At 13, she is going through many challenges. Let her know she is loved and appreciated whatever her weight. Focus on positive qualities, not weight loss. Be involved in her life and be encouraging. Weight loss is difficult, but with proper encouragement and support, your child can get to and maintain a healthy weight.