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Teen Dieting

We currently have the highest rates of teenage and childhood obesity in the world's history. Much of the blame for this can be placed on the fast food and low-energy society that we have become. Far too often, we feel that it is safer to keep our children inside our homes rather than allowing them to be active outdoors. However, the actions we take to protect our children are actually detrimental to their health.

Efforts are being made to address this problem and get our children more involved, active, and educated about making proper choices regarding diet, nutrition, fitness, and overall health. The main challenge for most teens is getting them away from their computers, phones, or televisions long enough to engage in physical activity.

Even video games are now encouraging physical activity. Games such as Play Station 2's Dance Party Revolution and the new Nintendo Wii gaming system are becoming popular. These games allow players to actively participate in the game play adventure instead of sitting passively. It is a great way to get teens off their seats and active. These games can also be fun for adults and have the same effects in terms of physical activity. Who would have thought that playing video games could actually be considered exercise?

Get outside and be active

Teens learn by example, and whether they admit it or not, they usually enjoy doing activities as part of the family. Try rock wall climbing or mountain climbing. Go bike riding together. Camp in the great outdoors and go hiking, boating, or biking. Learn a new sport as a family. It's surprising how much fun you can have learning to scuba dive, and neither of you will be consuming empty calories. Even if the sport you choose doesn't involve a lot of physical activity, it is still likely to be more active than sitting in front of the television.

Encourage your teen to join a recreational sports team. There are various sports teams available in our community that teens can join. Even those with no skills can participate in some leagues, while others are more competitive. Getting out and playing softball, soccer, or volleyball can be a great way for the family to do something together, and the games and practices provide opportunities for your teen to be active.

Lawn work is another way to get out and be active with your teen. The key, as always, is for your teen to burn more calories than they consume. It may be easier said than done, but it is possible if you work on getting them out and about. Find activities that interest your teen and focus on those, rather than forcing them to do activities they have no interest in (well, maybe except for yard work). In any case, filling their time with activities also means they aren't consuming calories, which is something worth considering.

Encourage your teen to eat healthier foods. Remove calorie-loaded sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks from your pantry, and encourage your teen to drink plenty of water each day. Introduce as many vegetables as possible into your teen's diet and get rid of prepackaged convenience snacks that teens tend to consume in one sitting. Also, involving your teen in the preparation and clean-up of meals will help them pay more attention to what they eat and the messes they create in the process.



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