Weight-Loss Strategies for Teens

By Maggie McCormick
Low-calorie vegetables can fill you up for less.
Low-calorie vegetables can fill you up for less.

Your teen might need to lose a few pounds, but the eating strategies he learns now are likely to be the ones he continues throughout his life. Weight loss comes down to consuming fewer calories than you burn, so the best strategies for teens to lose weight are to do this in healthful ways.

Cutting Out the Junk

Sugary sodas, chips and candy bars have little nutrition and a lot of calories, yet these might be the treats your teen often turns to. She might lose weight simply by eliminating those types of foods. For example, she could switch to drinking water or green tea if she wants the caffeine. Her afternoon snack could be carrot sticks with hummus rather than chips and dip. Not only do these foods have fewer calories, they're providing essential nutrients.

Counting Calories

Counting calories is a tried-and-true method of losing weight. To do this, your teen should measure portion sizes and enter the foods he eats into a food diary. Free websites and apps contain extensive databases of foods to choose from. When counting calories, don't go too low, though. According to GirlsHealth.gov, you shouldn't go below 1,600 calories a day when trying to lose weight.

Exercising More

At the other end of the equation is burning more calories, which your teen can do through exercise. This can be something as simple as taking more walks, in addition to more difficult activities such as running or swimming. An additional 60 minutes of exercise a day can help with weight loss, according to GirlsHealth.gov. In order to stick to it, she should choose activities that she finds interesting and fun. If she doesn't like going out in the cold, for example, walking might not be the best choice. Instead, she might enjoy following a dance workout DVD or using an elliptical machine in the basement. Building muscles will also burn more calories and help her body look strong and sleek.

Weight Loss Surgery

In extreme cases, weight loss surgery might be an option. To be a candidate, your teen needs to have a BMI of at least 35 and have significant health problems related to his size such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea or severe inflammation of the liver. When he has weight loss surgery, his stomach will be significantly smaller and his daily caloric intake will drastically drop. However, extreme risks are associated with the surgery such as blood clots, heart attack or strokes, infection in the lungs, bladder or kidneys and breathing problems. Talk to your child's doctor about whether the benefits of weight loss would exceed the risks.

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.