Telling Your Teen to Lose Weight Won’t Work. Here’s What Will.

family eating together

Across the country, teens are struggling with their weight.

With the physical and emotional health risks of being overweight, it’s important to help teens get to a healthy weight — and there’s a right way to go about it.

Helping your teen lose weight is a tricky balancing act. You want them to get down to a healthy weight, but you also don’t want to make them feel bad about themselves. That balance can be hard to find, but with some strategic planning, you can help your teen achieve a healthy weight in a safe, positive, and effective way.

Here are 5 ways to encourage healthy weight management.

1. Avoid body talk.

If you are constantly talking about your own body, that mindset can easily rub off on your teen.

Talking about other peoples’ bodies — even in a positive way — can also be problematic. It sets a tone that it’s normal and acceptable to judge others’ bodies. Your teen might absorb that mentality. As they compare themselves to others and start believing that weight is something everyone notices, your teen can become fixated on what’s “wrong” with their own body.

Never tease or shame your teen into losing weight.

This can actually increase their risk for being overweight down the road, and can take a huge toll on their mental health.

2. Have more meals together as a family.

Enjoying home-cooked meals as a family is a great weight management tool (as long you’re not cooking up fried, fatty foods).

Family members of all ages who regularly eat at home are less likely to be obese. Teens and children who eat meals with the family consume more fruits, vegetables, micronutrients, and vitamins, as well as less soda and fried foods.

The benefits of family meals go beyond weight management. You also get the benefit of having a little extra time with your teen to get to know them better and build your relationship.

3. “Sneak” in exercise.

Look for ways to help your teen get physical activity without telling them to hit the gym:

  • If your teen is looking for an afterschool activity, encourage them to try out for a sport or sign up for a dance class.
  • Now that your teen is old enough to take a walk without a chaperone, make walking the dog one of their assigned chores.
  • Suggest that they try babysitting young children — chasing little kids around can get their heart pumping.
  • If your teen loves video games, look for ones that involve physical activity rather than just sitting with a controller.
  • Plan family activities that are active. Instead of watching a movie, go on a hike or a bike ride together.

Modeling is another great method for encouraging physical activity. Make an effort to take walks, practice yoga, or try a home workout routine.

4. Always focus on being healthy — not dieting.

Even if your teen says that they want to lose weight, resist the urge to jump to dieting.

Teens who diet are actually more likely to become overweight than those who don’t. They’re also at a greater risk for developing eating disorders.

Also, body dissatisfaction is a significant problem in teens — and the ones who are more satisfied with their bodies are more likely to say that their parents encouraged exercising to be fit and healthy eating, rather than dieting.

5. Look out for signs of an eating disorder.

If your teen is taking their weight loss efforts to an extreme, reach out to their pediatrician or a behavioral health specialist right away.

Learn about the signs of an eating disorder.

Get Help From the Experts

You don’t need to encourage weight loss on your own. Your teen’s primary care provider or a nutritionist can help you find the best plan for your family.

Make an appointment with your teen’s pediatrician if you need help with weight management. If you suspect an eating disorder, contact their pediatrician or a behavioral health specialist right away.

NEW: Adolescent Medicine at Children’s

Have you heard the news?

Children’s Physicians has always treated adolescent patients. But to even further meet the unique needs of this age group, we have opened a new department focused solely on adolescent medicine.

Learn More About Adolescent Medicine at Children’s


Search the Children's Nebraska Website

Looking for a provider?