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Dramatic Weight Loss in Teens

by Kay Ireland

With TV, magazines, movies and music videos pressuring teens to walk, talk and look a certain way, it's no wonder that some feel pressure to lose weight. While maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of being a teenager, dropping pounds too fast and in unhealthy ways to achieve dramatic results can be dangerous. Help your teen learn healthier methods for weight loss as you watch for potential problems concerning weight loss and your teen's self-image.

Causes

A number of issues could cause your teen to drop a large amount of weight very quickly. If your teen has experienced dramatic weight loss without an explanation, take her to her doctor. Unexplained weight loss could be the result of a medical problem that requires treatment. Of course, sudden and dramatic weight loss could also be the result of your child's behavior and anything from a restrictive diet and obsessive exercise to eating disorders, like bulimia and anorexia. It's your job as a parent to explore the various reasons for the weight loss to ensure that potential problems are addressed and treated appropriately.

Symptoms

When your teen loses weight too quickly, you might notice some changes in her behavior, like a lack of energy or mood swings. You might also notice a preoccupation with diet and exercise, bordering on an obsession. Of course, a physical change might be apparent, including a gaunt appearance and sagging skin from losing weight so quickly. It's important to remember that not all of the side effects of a dramatic weight loss are negative. If your teen has been eating healthy and engaging in daily physical activity, you should notice a change in her weight and she may also feel more confident. However, meeting a weight loss goal and still trying to lose weight is a warning sign that there's a problem.

Treatment

If your teen has being using unhealthy methods to achieve weight loss, medical intervention may be necessary. See her pediatrician for a referral to a mental health specialist who can help. Your teen shouldn't lose more than one to two pounds per week and should be able to stop after she's reached his weight loss goal. After reaching a goal for weight loss, your teen can adopt a healthy lifestyle to maintain that weight without having to resort to unhealthy diet tactics. If your teen's weight loss is unexplained, a doctor can run tests and examine your teen's health to find a reason for the dramatic weight loss and then suggest a treatment course to help maintain a healthy weight.

Prevention

Whether overweight or underweight, it's important that a teen maintain a healthy self-image. MayoClinic.com suggests that you talk to your teen about healthy weight loss tactics and what is and isn't real in the media. If your teen understands that magazines are airbrushed and celebs undergo rigorous diet and exercise routines to obtain their physiques, she may be more likely to love her own body. It's also important to watch your teen for risky behaviors. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders warns that about half of teen girls and a third of teen boys use unhealthy and risky methods to lose weight, including skipping meals, fasting, smoking, bulimia and taking laxatives. If you find your teen using such tactics, get her the help she needs as soon as possible.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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