Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is critical for overweight and obese teenage girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 21 percent of U.S. teens are obese -- and obese teens are more likely to become obese adults and to have joint and sleep problems, poor self-esteem, social problems, prediabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Healthy eating combined with regular physical activity can help teen girls reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Weight-Loss Calorie Needs
Any teen should talk with a doctor before reducing caloric intake. Generally, overweight or obese teenage girls should boost physical activity and make healthy food choices in place of following a calorie-restricted diet. This will help ensure that they get the nutrients they need for growth and development. To maintain a healthy weight, the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" estimates that sedentary teen girls require about 1,800 calories daily, moderately active ones need about 2,000 calories and active teen girls require about 2,400 calories.
Physical Activity Goals
Becoming more active is one of the best ways for overweight teen girls to shed unwanted weight and body fat. The "2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans" recommends that teenagers get at least 60 minutes a day of physical exercise and do muscle-strengthening routines -- such as squats, lunges, push-ups and sit-ups -- at least three times a week. Increasing muscle tissue is key because it burns more calories than fat, even while you are resting. Cardiovascular exercises, such as vigorous walking, jogging, biking, swimming or playing soccer, burn lots of calories.
Healthy Meal Plans
Using meal plans from "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" can help overweight teen girls get the essential nutrients they need for growth and development without overeating. A sample healthy meal plan for a 2,000-calorie daily diet includes 6 ounces of grains, 2.5 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruits, 3 cups of dairy foods, 5.5 ounces of protein-rich foods and 6 teaspoons of oils.
A healthy diet can keep you feeling full throughout the day. For example, for breakfast, fix two slices of whole-grain toast, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 cup of sliced strawberries and 1 cup of low-fat milk. Eat a morning snack of 1.5 ounces of reduced-fat cheese and 1 cup of sliced apples. For lunch, have 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast, 2 cups of leafy greens, 1.5 tablespoons of Italian salad dressing and 1 cup of brown rice. Try a cup of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt as an afternoon snack. At dinner, eat a large lean turkey or veggie burger, a whole-wheat bun and a cup of cherry tomatoes. An ounce of peanuts or almonds and 1/2 cup of celery make good evening snacks.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Childhood Obesity Facts
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as an Ounce Equivalent in the Protein Foods Group?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as an Ounce Equivalent of Grains?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as a Cup of Fruit?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as a Cup of Vegetables?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as a Cup in the Dairy Group?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Do I Count the Oils I Eat?