When is it time to place an adolesent on a diet?
When you notice a slow but steady gain of weight on your child, that they sneak food and consistently choose unhealthy eating habits, despite teaching them healthy eating their entire life -- what should a parent do? The child is a teen and intelligent.
First off, it's normal for kids to gain some weight just before a growth spurt. It's like they need to 'bulk up' for the sudden sprout. Afterwards, their waistlines often thin out again.
If a teen is suddenly gaining weight, it's not a bad idea to have a check up. There may be a physical cause, like thyroid issues. If nothing else, the doctor can reiterate your concerns about healthy dietary choices. It makes a bigger impact coming from a non-family member.
Finally, diets are risky business. You don't want your child to be set up with an unhealthy relationship with food. Continue to limit their access to nutrient lacking foods. If you limit how many potato chips and cookies you purchase, their snack options are much more limited. Just make sure there are plenty of 'good' options available. A healthy lifestyle will serve them much better than any 'diet' that's just waiting to end.
Msviolets is dead on with her answer. I am wondering if the child has been over-weight from the start. My niece is 4 and I just bought her a size 8 easter dress only to find she now needs a 10. I already felt 8 was a bit much, 10 is scary. I am worried about her little heart, not to mention teasing and bullying in school in a couple of years. Her doctor wants to run tests to insure it is not a health issue but taking into consideration that both parents are obese, I doubt it. They tend to eat starchy and fatty foods and things I stopped eating decades ago due their being so unhealthy. I am certain it is the diet of the household and it upsets me that due to that, I have no doubt her doctor will now have choice but to put her on a diet and seriously restrict the foods she is used to and loves. But I also feel she is young enough to quickly adapt and have her cupcakes replaced with a healthier alternative. So, having said ALL that, if she has been over-weight from 1 year to now, it is time to change her choices and portion control is very helpful as well. She needs to be taught how to eat healthfully.
I agree with the other two answers -- chiefly teaching the child portion control early on will help, also fostering a good relationship to food; seeing it as fuel instead of fun, etc. Starting early is key, and having the parents set good examples is very important.
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