The American Academy of Pediatrics reported in 2014 that 19 of 20 obese teens will be obese as adults. Such a statistic emphasizes the need for overweight and obese teens to achieve and maintain healthy body weights, but short-term, low-calorie diets are not necessarily the best option. Many teens are still growing and developing into adults -- and require adequate nutrition to do so. Follow healthy eating guidelines and speak to your doctor before your teen embarks on any weight-loss plan.
Always chat with your child’s pediatrician to determine your child's individualized safe rate of weight loss. Most teens should avoid losing more than 2 pounds a week, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teens going through puberty should aim to lose a half-pound a week. Many overweight teens can safely lose between 5 and 20 pounds in a 10-week period, depending on their individualized doctor-approved weight-loss goal.
Fully grown teens only need to reduce their caloric intake by 500 per day to lose about 1 pound weekly, while teens going through puberty should aim for a 250-calorie daily reduction, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics. Eliminate added sugars and sugary drinks to help teens effectively reduce calories. Consider that two cans of regular cola contain about 304 calories; one regular-sized candy bar contains about 280 calories; and a king-sized candy bar provides a whopping 555 calories. Other ways to cut calories include switching from 2 percent to skim milk; choosing plain Greek yogurt instead of fruit-flavored versions; snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of potato chips; and choosing unbreaded grilled lean meats instead of fried breaded meats.
Physical Activity Considerations
Overweight and obese teens who increase their physical activity level may not have to reduce their caloric intake as much -- if any -- during a 10-week weight-loss program. For example, a 185-pound teen who walks at a pace of 3.5 miles per hour for one hour burns 356 calories, and the same 185-pound teen who bikes at a moderate pace for just 30 minutes burns 311 calories. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that teenagers get at least one hour of physical activity every day. Overweight teens who are unable to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes daily should start with shorter exercise durations, and gradually increase the length of those workouts over time.
Healthy Meal Plans
Many moderately active healthy teen girls require about 2,000 calories per day, while moderately active teen boys typically need 2,400 to 2,800 calories daily to maintain healthy weights, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Healthy diets containing 2,000 calories daily should include 2.5 cups of veggies, 2 cups of fruits, 3 cups of low-fat dairy foods, 6 ounces of grains, 5.5 ounces of protein foods -- such as lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, soy products, nuts, seeds and legumes -- and 6 teaspoons of oils each day.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Losing Weight Safely, Sensibly, Successfully
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 14148, Carbonated Beverage, Cola
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 19155, Candies, Mars Snackfood US, Snickers Bar
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Summary