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Good nutrition and obesity in adolescents: how counseling could help

GEHA | October 1, 2018

Everyday health
Teaching adolescents healthy eating habits early in life can help prevent obesity.

Good nutrition and healthy eating are important for a healthy lifestyle. It’s especially important for children and adolescents because of their rapid growth and development.

Our bodies need energy to function and grow, and calories from food and drinks give us that energy.  The body demands more calories during early adolescence than at any other time of life.

About 20 percent of kids between 12 and 19 years old are obese. Young people generally become overweight or obese because they do not get enough physical activity in combination with poor eating habits. Genetics and lifestyle also contribute to a child's weight. Small changes in eating habits and physical activity may help a child reach and stay a healthy weight.

If your adolescent is struggling with obesity, counseling could help. Diets that are accompanied by counseling tend to produce the most weight loss. The focus of counseling should be twofold: initial weight loss and sustained weight loss.

Treatment to address these often includes the involvement of a nutritionist, qualified mental health professional and an exercise specialist. Goals should be realistic, focused on modest reduction of calories and portion sizes, changes in eating habits and the incorporation of exercise into a healthy lifestyle.

Here are some tips for healthy eating:

  • Try to limit foods like cookies, candy, frozen desserts, chips and fries, which often have a lot of sugar, unhealthy fat and salt.
  • For a quick snack, eat fruit or raw vegetables.
  • Drink water and fat-free or low-fat milk rather than sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks and some juices have added sugars, a source of extra calories.  
  • Eat breakfast. This first meal of the day provides fuel for your body.  And don’t skip meals because this leads to overeating at the next meal.  A good guide is to eat three meals a day plus a midmorning and midafternoon snack.

Counseling can help your adolescent learn how to make the right choices to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to remember that even small changes can have significant results. Talk to your child’s doctor to explore how counseling could help your adolescent with obesity.