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What's Making Me Fat? What Can I Do?

There isn't any one cause of teen weight problems, but you can control some things.

The Weight of Food continued...

To tackle a weight problem, you don't have to give up on the idea of food making you happy, but you likely will need to change what and how you eat.

"Eat like a hummingbird," advises Charlene Huang, MD, a specialist in adolescent medicine at Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills, Calif. By this, she means eat small amounts of healthy foods every two or three hours. And never skip meals, she adds. The goal is to reduce the times that you feel so famished that your resistance is down. If you eat frequently, you'll be more apt to limit yourself to a healthy portion.

Family and Weight

Whether it's genes or behavior, weight problems tend to run in families. Home is where you learn to eat. This includes what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat.

Here are some family habits that can influence a teen's weight gain:

  • Meals in front of the TV
  • Too many snacks
  • Turning to food when feeling sad, nervous, or upset -- or as the primary way to celebrate
  • Large servings
  • Rules to eat everything on your plate

Getting Ready to Lose Weight

Before you launch into your weight loss plan, set the stage for success.

Get smart. Knowledge is power. Read up on healthy eating and exercise so you know what to eat and how to move.

Rally support. Talk to your family and friends about your weight loss plan so they are ready to support you.

Start a diary. Get ready to record everything you eat and how much you exercise every day. You can write things down or record foods and portions by taking a picture of meals and snacks with your cell phone.

Think about what you eat. Eating when you're distracted can lead to many, many unwanted additional pounds. Slow down and take time to taste the food in your mouth and register your feelings of satisfaction and fullness.

Prepare for a lifetime of good health. There's no quick fix when it comes to weight loss, especially with tempting food everywhere you look. Plan for long-term health.


Healthy weight management takes focus and commitment. "Many people succeed at losing weight," says Kirschenbaum. "But it's important to know how much work it will take." For many people, making concerted efforts to control their weight is something they do their whole lives. If this brings you down, remind yourself that weight is manageable. It's something you will always have to focus on, but your healthy choices can include foods you love and activities that you enjoy. The process will become more of a habit and just something you do, not always a big struggle.

Reviewed on January 11, 2012