TeenHealthFX wants to start by saying that we think it is a wonderful thing when teens want to be physically healthy and in good shape. The number of teens in America who are overweight and obese are on the rise – and this can contribute to emotional problems, such as stress and depression, as well as increase risk for medical concerns such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
However, we also want to point out that it is important for teens to have realistic expectations for their bodies – how their bodies perform and what they look like. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by images from the media of what is beautiful, many young men and women consider themselves “fat” when in fact they are at a perfectly healthy weight. That said, before trying to shed any pounds, it’s a good idea to check in with your primary care physician or adolescent medicine specialist to come up with some reasonable and healthy fitness goals, as well as to ensure you are using safe means of meeting those goals.
If your doctor agrees that it is reasonable and healthy for you to try and tackle your midsection, discuss the following considerations with him/her to come up with a plan that is best for you:
Some teens think that crunches alone can take care of belly fat. However, to lose fat anywhere in the body, including the belly, regular cardio activity is a must. Find an activity that you enjoy or that you can do with friends – whatever keeps you motivated to keep it up. You could walk, run, play sports with a school or town team, swim, bike, or whatever else gets your heart pumping.
Strengthen your middle
Exercises that strengthen your core will definitely help firm up your middle. You could look into doing yoga or pilates, or other effective exercises that target the midsection. You could check with your coach, your doctor, or a personal trainer at a local gym for ideas on specific exercises. You could also ask them about some of the exercises demonstrated in Exercises to improve your core strength and Core-strength exercises with a fitness ball.
Consider what you eat
Eating a healthy diet is a critical component to losing the “stubborn belly fat.” Smaller portions and healthier choices are the key. Try and stay clear of foods high in sugar. Eat foods that have fewer calories and that are high in fiber, like fruits and vegetables. Choose lean proteins such as fish, beans and lentils. Go for whole wheat pasta, whole grain breads, and brown rice rather than regular pasta, white bread and white rice. And stay away from highly processed foods.
Don’t think “quick fix”
Fad diets, such as ones that use diet pills or that severely restrict caloric intake, might seem tempting to teens who want results quickly. But remember that when you resort to fad diets, the results aren’t going to be long-term and they can carry certain health risks. What you want to focus on are lifestyle changes in terms of physical activity and how you eat – that is what will bring long-lasting and healthy results.
Teens often abuse prescription drugs because of the myth that these drugs provide a medically safe high.
It is estimated that major depressive disorder (MDD) affects about 5% of adolescents, and that between 10 - 15% of adolescents have some symptoms of depression at any one time.
Statistics show that giving a teen a credit card does not teach them to be financially responsible or to encourage self-restraint, but actually promotes a “spend now and deal with the consequences later” mindset.
Girls are more likely to intentionally abuse prescription drugs than boys.
The reality of excessive interest rates and fees that often accompany credit card use for teens, can put youngsters in a position where they are losing out on admission to graduate school, getting a job, or renting an apartment because of damaged credit history.
Less than 33% of teens with depression get help, yet 80% of teens with depression can be successfully treated if they seek help from a doctor or therapist.
Traffic crashes are the greatest single cause of death for all persons age 6-33, and about 45% of these fatalities are alcohol-related crashes.
About 6.2 million Americans get a new genital HPV infection each year.
30% of teens with depression also have a substance abuse problem.
Freshmen bring an average of $1,585.00 in credit card debt to college.
About a third of women who seek services related to unprotected sex, such as pregnancy testing or emergency contraception, do not receive STD counseling, testing, or treatment.
7-10% of college students will drop out of school because of credit problems.
Teens with untreated depression are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, leading to higher rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Most smokers begin smoking as teens, and the average age of initiation is 12.5 years of age.
People with manic symptoms and Bipolar Disorder II are at a significant risk of later developing an alcohol abuse or dependence problem.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for 36% of all deaths in this age group.
The teen pregnancy rate in the United States is the highest of any industrialized democracy, nearly twice that of Great Britain and 10 times that of Japan. 4
Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use, and male high school students are more likely than female students to rarely or never wear seat belts.
A national study of women ages 15-44 found that women were almost twice as likely to receive contraceptive services rather than STD services.
The teenage pregnancy rate in the U.S. is at its lowest level in thirty years, down 36% since its peak in 1990. Research suggests that both increased abstinence and positive changes in contraceptive practice are responsible these recent declines in teen pregnancy.
A sexually active teenager who does not use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within one year. 8
In the United States, at least 5-10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men are struggling with eating disorders. 11
Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2005, 38% were speeding at the time of the crash and 24% had been drinking.
Homicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds overall. 16
Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. 22
One in four teenage girls in the U.S. had at least one common sexually transmitted disease.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youths ages 15 to 20. 19
The highest Chlamydia rates occurred among women ages 15 to 19 and 20 to 24.
About 44% of rape victims are under age 18. Three out of every twenty victims (15%) are under age 12. 25
Each year, half of all HIV infections are among people under the age of 25.
Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive.
One out of every six American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. A total of 17.7 million women have been victims of these crimes. 23
Teen girls ages 15-19 have the highest Gonorrhea rate of any age group.
The motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16-19 is more than one and half times that of their female counterparts.
More than four in 10 young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20 - nearly one million teen pregnancies a year 3
The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers; the risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in this country. More than 400,000 Americans die from tobacco-related causes each year, and most of them began using tobacco before the age of 18.
The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group.
Underage drinking costs the U.S. more than $58 billion every year; enough to buy every public school student a state-of-the-art computer.
At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash is greater for teens than for older drivers.
Teens who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crimes and sexual assault, have serious problems in school, be involved in drinking-related traffic crashes, and develop problems with alcohol later in life.
Nearly all the poison deaths in the U.S. are attributed to drugs, and most drug poisonings result from the abuse of prescription and illegal drugs.
Alcohol kills 6.5 times more youth than all other illicit drugs combined.
Persons aged 15-24, who represent only 14% of the U.S. population, account for 30% ($19 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28% ($7 billion) among females.
Among young people ages 12-17, prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug, behind marijuana.