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Weight Loss Guide for Teens

by Candice Coleman

Teenagers may be drawn to losing weight in order to live a healthier life, to fit into a long-ignored pair of jeans or to fit in better with peers at school. An inactive lifestyle paired with poor eating habits can contribute to several long-term health problems like obesity, cancer, heart disease or stroke. However, excessive exercise or dieting can also turn in to eating disorders, so teenagers should speak to their doctors before undergoing any weight loss program.

Weight Percentiles and Necessity of Weight Loss

Weight percentile charts are typically used to determine whether or not a teenager's weight is healthy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A healthy weight for a particular person can vary based on age, gender, muscle mass, frame size and other factors. A doctor can determine if your teen's weight is healthy for her, and whether or not it would be safe for her to lose more weight, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Even though your teen's weight may be considered healthy, a doctor may okay a little additional weight loss.

Eating

On average, inactive girls ages 13 to 20 need between 1,400 and 2,000 calories a day, while inactive boys in the same age group need between 1,600 and 2,600 calories per day, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Active teenage boys ages 13 to 20 need between 1,800 calories and 3,000 calories, while active girls need 1,600 to 2,400 calories. Reducing your teen's calorie intake by 500 calories per day may help him shed about a pound a week, though boys should never eat fewer than 1,500 calories and girls should never eat fewer than 1,200 calories, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Your doctor can give you specific advice on how many calories your teen needs per day to lose weight. Calories should come predominantly from unprocessed foods.

Exercise

Physical activity most days of the week will help teenagers shed excess pounds. Riding a stationary bicycle at a vigorous pace for half an hour could help a 155-pound person burn almost 400 calories, according to Harvard Medical School. Burning 500 calories per day through physical activity could help teenagers lose about a pound per week, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Keep weight loss to 1 to 2 pounds per week to help your teen maintain a healthy lifestyle. If your teen's weight loss is moving more quickly, you may need to increase her calorie intake or reduce her exercise schedule. If the extra weight is coming off too slowly, she may need to eat fewer calories or add more activity to her lifestyle. Again, consult with your teen's doctor to help your teen make healthy choices that can be maintained over time.

Fad Diets

Many teenagers may be drawn to lose-weight quick schemes, like diet pills, laxatives, fasting diets or other programs, according to KidsHealth, a child development site. These programs often involve more muscle and water loss than fat loss, and these diets can be dangerous to a teenager's health. A balanced diet paired with an appropriate amount of exercise can help your teen keep off excess weight for the rest of his life.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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