Health Watch -- Teens and Weight Loss

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Is there a healthy way for teens to lose "baby fat"?

Teens are often very worried about their appearance, and losing excess weight may be part of their concern. When teens go through growth spurts, they may put on extra weight while they get taller. If a teen is overweight for their height and age, it's important for them to take an approach to weight loss that teaches them healthier habits for a lifetime of feeling and looking good.

Nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say that because teens may still be growing, severely limiting food intake isn't the best way to go about shedding extra pounds. Instead, put together a balanced diet of nutritious foods, along with exercise.

Dr. Scott Grundy, director of UT Southwestern's Center for Human Nutrition, offers these tips for helping teens lose weight: Build your diet around foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy products and whole grains.

Instead of depriving yourself of favorite foods, eat smaller portions. You're less likely to go on an eating binge if you don't feel deprived.

Be aware of when and where you eat. The timing of meals and the places you eat can have a big impact on what you eat and how much you eat. Eating on the run or grabbing a vending machine snack between activities may cause you to eat more than you realize. Try to plan mealtimes where you can relax and enjoy your food.

And develop good exercise habits by learning a sport or activity that you can enjoy for life.