How can parents help with teen BMI & the problem of Obesity in teens and adolescents? This rapidly spreading demon is paralysing majority of our teens. And if not cared for, it would lead to major health challenges in the upcoming future. 

What exactly does BMI mean? In simple terms BMI or Body Mass Index is the ratio between the weight of a person to his height. Higher the BMI, higher is the fat element in the body and vice versa.

Though this is only an indicative figure and not a direct measurement of the fat in the body. Hence the BMI is interpreted to be in direct proportion to the body fats.

How can parents help with teen BMI

How can Parents help with Teen BMI

The Data has been sourced from Centre for Disease Control & Prevention

You can also read about “How can parents help with teenage girl BMIhere 

List of things “How can Parents help with Teen BMI”

Create an Exercise Routine & help your Teen get healthy BMI

As far maintaining good BMI is concerned, holistic exercise routine is great addition to your teen’s everyday routine. And the kind of physical activity should be purely chosen on the basis of her interest and keenness. This is because imposing your will especially with the intent of weight loss would result in a half hearted agreement. Also when there is no fun involved in the exercise routine, it is bound to be gone from her routine soon.

So sit with her and understand what kind of physical routine she wants to adopt. It should be absolutely ok if your teen daughter wants to participate in same activity as her friends. Adding little fun element to the exercise routine can increase her motivation manifolds.

Another important point is that you as a parent have to walk the talk and do it yourself as well. Have the routine in place for your own self and follow it consistently.

Cook Healthy Meals at home & help your Teen achieve Healthy BMI

One of the important responsibility of parents is to ensure your teen understands what living healthy means. What you eat and cook at home is an important determinant of your household health quotient. So cook healthy meals at home for your family. And support your teen in her health endeavours.

Put your teen in some team games & help her reach her optimum BMI 

While we realise the importance of academics and extra curricular, it is still out of the vision of many parents to understand the importance of participating in team games. Teens learn a whole array of life skills while they participate in team games. Be it a Football team or a basketball match, make your teen participate in one of the team sports. Apart from working on finer collaboration skills, it works on your teen’s physical and mental fitness too.  I am working on another blog post about team sports and what all your teen learns while being a part of them. So stay tuned for an insightful read, I promise it will present some really new ideas and benefits.

Involve teens in meal planning & help your teen care for her BMI

This is an extension of cooking healthy and homely meals at home. Now involving your teens in meal planning is a great way to talk about otherwise preachy subject of Junk Food. Discussing about what’s healthy and how much should it be included in the daily diet helps in breaking a lot of myths in your teens minds. At times it also brings a variety of facts to forefront that your teen has been intentionally ignoring. Sometimes under the pressure of peers, friends or fancy marketers.

Go back to traditional lifestyle & help your teen in getting a healthier BMI

While there are a lot of fad diets that internet is home to these days, the best advice on being healthy is something you get by listening to your body. Another great idea is to go back to living the life how our ancestors used to. Eating seasonal, local and whole foods and exercising while doing your daily chores is the way to healthy and fulfilling life.

However it’s not easy to convince teens to be away from all the attractive processed foods and fad diets and exercise programmes. Finding a balance however would not be that difficult for you and your teen. For example anything that gives you convenience is something that is taking you away from your good health. Use a bike instead of car to visit your neighbourhood grocery store for example is something which is doable and practical.

Eat Whole food rather than processed & help your teen reach her BMI Goals

Another major deterrent to good health these days is chemical laden processed food available in our grocery stores. Making an intentional choice about eating whole food rather than processed junk should be taught to teens.

Develop Mindfulness & Awareness about good health & ideal BMI

Another very important habit to instil in our teenagers for maintaining a good BMI is being mindful about our health. Being Aware of what they are eating and what effects will that have on their bodies is a great start to getting healthy and fit.

Furthermore, awareness of stress and its triggers and how teens respond to them is also a great skill to have. Teens and even adults have been guilty of over eating and eating junk food under the influence of stress their day today lives.

You can also read about “How can parents help with teenage boy BMIhere 

Reasons that cause higher BMI in Teens

Adolescents who fall in the 95th percentile or above are categorized as obese. These are teens who are above the accepted levels of weight for the particular age and height. 

Obesity is rising at alarming rates all over the globe as more and more adolescents are now suffering from overweight-related issues. At childhood, the health effects of being overweight may not be that prominent as in adults. But obesity if not handled well in the childhood stage, can lead to obese adults and adolescents. In the adulthood, obesity has serious medical repurcussions. It affects the heart and can also lead to diabetes. Some serious psychological issues like depression, low self-esteem, stress are also caused due to obesity etc.

It has mostly seen that teens who have unhealthy lifestyles are prone to become obese. Some of the common factors for overweight and obesity in teens include:-
 
Unhealthy eating habits and patterns
 
Teens love to eat junk, fast and fried food that have zero nutritional value. this food is full of artificial sugars, oils and other harmful ingredients that are too high on unwanted calories. Desserts, chocolates, ice-creams, candies, and baked food also lead to unwanted weight gain in teens. Juices, soft drinks are full of sugar that impacts the weight of the teen.
 
Minimal or zero physical activity
 
With the growth of the digital media and platform, most teens today spend most of their time in front of the blue screen. Physical activity is almost negligible with teens being physically inactive. Rather than playing outdoors, teens spend their free time indoors watching the screens. Be it TV or surfing the net or playing games online. This is one of the major reasons of teens gaining weight these days.
 
Family history
 
Sometimes obesity is attributed to the genes. However, it is not essential that every child in the family will have weight related issues, if it is a family problem. But if it is in the genes, the chances or the risks of being overweight or obese will be high in the teens.
 
Stress
 
Dealing with stress can make teens overeat. The causes of stress in teens can be many. Some times the causes can be as complex as relationship & arguements between the parents. While at times simple things like their peers and their toys can create stress in young minds. You can read about my post on things to know about teenage stress here. Infact if we go deeper into the subject, having stress is a part of life; the skills we have to deal with that stress is what makes and breaks the situation. So as parents if we are mindful about how we deal with our stress, we can create a great model in front of our teens to imitate.

Boredom

Similarly, when a teen is feeling bored, he may focus on eating. As parents, we should figure out the reason why our teens is getting back to food quickly. If the reason is boredom, then it is a clear sign that we need to actively engage with our teen. And bring in little more responsibility & challenge in her everyday life. Having interesting games, involving him in chores, having her friends home for a play date, reading books together, are good ideas to spend time creatively with your teen. Infact this is one area where we as parents can be as creative as we can. Volunteer for some community activity, plant a tree, let her have a free play time with things around at house. Encourage her to create something out of waste, or tell an interesting story.

Socio-economic reasons 

This is also a factor where parents might indulge their teens by buying fast and convenience food because they have limited resources. Children belonging to the higher income groups have more sedentary lifestyle. They hardly do any of their daily chores too. And may not get involved in physical activities on a regular basis thereby leading them gain unnecessary weight. 

How is Teen BMI different from adult BMI?

BMI in children is different from that of adults. In adults, the BMI reveals if the weight of the person is okay for his height or not, irrespective of his age, gender, ethnicity or muscle mass. However in teens, the BMI is more in context of the age and the gender of the child.

In adults the BMI is simply a ratio between the weight and the height. However, in teens it is the BMI percentile that assesses the category the teen falls in.

Medical practitioners use a graph or a chart to assess BMI percentile of your teen. In this, BMI is plotted against the vertical or the Y-axis and the age on the horizontal or the X-axis. And the point at which the two intersect is a percentile. And the same percentile is used to interpret the corresponding category where the teen falls in. 

The following table helps in understanding the category your teen falls in.

THE BMI PERCENTILE INTERPRETATION

If the percentile is less than 5th percentile – UNDERWEIGHT

Between 5th and 85th percentile – HEALTHY WEIGHT

Between 85th and 94th percentile – OVERWEIGHT

Greater than or equal to 95th percentile – OBESE

This is the Standard Chart Sourced from Centre for Disease Control & Prevention.

 

How is High BMI harmful In Teens?

Maybe not very critical in this age but as they grow older they become more susceptible to develop some serious health disorders. Diabetes, high blood pressure, abdominal fat and high bad cholesterol are just few examples. Moreover, overweight Teens are also more prone to asthma, sleep related issues. Non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases and regular bone fractures are also seen in more often in obese teens. Obese teens also suffer from low self-esteem, depression, loneliness, hopelessness. Additionally, they are more prone to fall prey to bullies too. And having a high BMI Teen is a wake up call for parents to start introspecting and finding their own answer to “How can parents help with Teen BMI”

IS it Only High BMI that is worrisome, What happens when I have a Low BMI teen

Ideally Low Bmi Teen should take ideal amounts of nutrition. If she is not lacking in energy and any vital and trace nutrients in her annual medical examinations, it is not a big cause to worry. However an advice from an expert medical practitioner never hurts. 

So this is all about How parents can help with teen BMI. And, I hope you would have gained real insight out of this post. So, do let me know in comments if you found this helpful.

Hi, I am Kushal Singhal – Parent of two lovely kids and the Founder of Cafe Whiz.