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Helping a Teen Gain Weight

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

Many teens aren't happy with their bodies. If your teen perceives himself as too skinny, your teen might seek your help in gaining weight, particularly if he wants to add weight for sports. Most teens who are underweight don't need to work to put on weight, according to KidsHealth. The weight will come on naturally as they go through puberty. However, you can help your teen gain weight healthfully.

Muscle Growth

To gain weight, your teen shouldn't aim to put on fat. She should aim to build muscle, which will increase her body weight, while helping her look toned and active. Teens can start an active exercise program, including weightlifting, according to HealthyChildren.org, the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you're a fitness buff yourself, you can teach your teen how to lift safely. Otherwise, you might spring for a family membership to a gym, along with personal training. You can all get healthy together.

Extra Calories

In order to gain weight healthfully, your teen will need additional calories. Safe weight gain is about 1 to 2 pounds per week, according to HealthyChildren.org, which should come from adding about 300 or 400 calories a day. If your child is also exercising a lot, he might need to eat even more. Help him achieve his calorie goals by buying healthful high-calorie foods for him to eat.

Frequent Meals

To get these extra calories, it's helpful to eat meals more frequently. This can be difficult for a teen who's at school all day and who participates in extracurricular activities. Ensure that your teen eats a healthful breakfast, and send her with extra snacks for after school if she's not coming home. Eating five to nine times a day is ideal for weight gain, according to HealthyChildren.org.

Boosting Calories Healthfully

It's important that the extra calories your child is eating are healthful calories. You don't necessarily want him eating an extra two candy bars each day. Instead, choose full-fat versions of milk, cheese and yogurt. Add healthful fats such as peanut butter and olive oil to his foods. Drinking breakfast or protein shakes along with a meal is another way to boost caloric intake.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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