Thursday, January 13, 2011
Adolescents and Weight Loss Diets
Most active young people between the ages of 11 and 18 need to consume at least 2200 calories per day. Weight-loss diets that restrict calorie intake to1200 calories per day or less can create large energy deficits in adolescents. This lack of adequate calories and nutrients may inhibit growth and cause delayed puberty. In addition, dieting can be the precursor to more severe eating behaviors or disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
If a child’s weight is a concern, the family as a whole can engage in healthier eating habits and more physical activity. This is a positive approach that does not single out the child. In extreme cases, it may be appropriate to place a child on a weight-loss diet. However, this should be discussed with a physician and a dietitian familiar with youth development and nutrient needs.