Healthy Weight Loss Programs for Teens
For pediatric health experts and others who are concerned about the healthy and productive future of American youth, one of the most worrisome and confounding issues can be expressed in two words: childhood obesity.
As issues related to adolescent weight management continue to spiral out of control throughout the United States, experts estimate that the problem will continue to have myriad negative consequences on the nation’s future.
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For example, for the first time in U.S. history, some experts estimate that children being born today may have a life expectancy shorter than that of their parents. And with the healthcare costs of overweight- and obesity-related medical issues continuing to skyrocket, there is an increasing likelihood that today’s young people will also face an economically bleak future.
Causes of Adolescent Weight Management Issues
As is also the case with adults, overweight and obesity among children, adolescents, and teenagers may be the result of several issues, including sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition.
As parents work harder and longer than ever before, restaurant and fast food dinners have replaced healthy, home-cooked meals. Sodas and sugar-laden juices have replaced water, and schools serve pizza and burgers for a fraction of the cost of balanced, nutrient-dense meals.
America’s fast food culture has made high-fat, caloric foods available to individuals of every background, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Although people in poorer areas may not even have a major grocery chain nearby or access to fresh fruits and vegetables, the fast food industry has ensured that everyone can have access to processed burgers and fries.
With the explosion in the popularity of video games and other technology-based leisure pursuits, children who generations ago would have been spending significant amounts of time in active play outside are now passing hours in front of a television set or computer monitor.
Treatments for childhood obesity generally fall into three categories: improved diet, increased activity, and sometimes medical action (including medication and/or weight-loss surgery). Because children are highly adaptable and usually very capable of making dietary changes and increasing physical activity levels without health hindrances, medical actions are usually reserved for extraordinary situations.
Physical activities are a critical component of healthy weight maintenance or weight loss for children and teens. Parents should emphasize activity rather than exercise for young people. Most children and teens don’t need to practice adult habits like going to a gym to achieve healthy levels of activity. Outside play time and sports are usually enough to burn the necessary calories and provide health benefits.
To encourage children to spend time being physically active, parents should limit the amount of time the kids are allowed to spend in front of the television and computer. Another great way to keep kids active is for parents to be active themselves. To keep kids interested, find activities that children like, and vary them.
For children with significant weight management issues, residential programs such as Wellspring Academy or Wellspring Weight Loss Camps provide excellent long- and short-term options. In addition to helping overweight and obese young people with their physical and nutritional challenges, Wellspring programs also address the psychological, emotional, and social issues that impact adolescent weight management.