Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Early Intervention can help teens and preteens learn about healthy living

I read an article today that talked about how parents can more effectively talk to their teens about issues involving weight, dieting, diet, exercise and general health in these very delicate years.  I remember being a teenager and I remember that yes, weight was always an issue but more today than ever with social media as an intermediary and distribution channel.  Kids of today are sending one another pictures in all forms.  They post them on Facebook, Instagram, text messages etc., and they all "discuss" how one another "looks"...whether negative or positive....unfortunately, the negative seems to outweigh the positive.

WEIGHT is almost a dirty word.  And being OVERweight is considered a crime when you are a teenager.  So how do you, as a parent talk to your kids about how to improve their habits?  Not to look better for their peers, but to be HEALTHY and to reach adulthood with a positive outlook about themselves?

This is a very tricky question and one that has varied answers.  I am not an expert, but I have an opinion.  As a woman, who (now looking back) was not "overweight" but thought I was and struggled with feeling bigger than other girls.  I however, was an active teen.  I played softball, soccer and I went to summer camp in the Berkshires and did activities all day, every day even into my adult years as a teen and adult.  This is a common problem with many females.  We see ourselves very different than what is real.  My situation may be different, because I had a healthy outlook...I chose (with the help of my Mom) to keep playing sports and to avoid any unhealthy behavior that could become dangerous to my health.  Of course, this was in the early 90's and social media did not exist...so the pressure was not as immediate.

It is estimated, that today over 50% of teenagers (including boys) are participating in unhealthy behavior to decrease their body weight through various forms of elimination, starvation, smoking, drugs, diet pills, drinks etc.  Trust me, I am aware that these methods have been used for years but it seems that the age of the user is getting younger and younger.  A study by the University of Pittsburgh shows that children as young as 7 years of age have shown signs of dieting. 

Your children are never too young to learn about healthy behavior.  They are never too young to get involved in team sports (appropriately aged).  Teaching your kids how to make healthy decisions about food and drinks at an early age can help prevent a whole host of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, breathing problems and weight issues.  Kids uses their smart phones for any number of things...introduce them to managing their health online through programs like Healthper.  It's never too early to get them on board.

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