Overweight teens lose weight for the right reasons, study shows

December 23, 2014

Most heavy teens' attempts to lose weight don't work, but a new study shows a big secret of those who do succeed.

They do it more for their own sake rather than to impress their peers or please their parents.

"Most parents have the view that their teen is largely influenced by other people's perceptions of them," said Chad Jensen, a psychologist at Brigham Young University. "Our findings suggest that teens have motivations that are more intrinsic. One implication is that parents should help to focus their teen on healthy behaviors for the sake of being healthy more than for social acceptance."

Jensen and his students at BYU looked in-depth at the success stories of 40 formerly obese or overweight teens. On average the participants shed 30 pounds, moving them from the obese to the normal weight category. They also maintained their healthier weight for a full year.

More than 60 percent described their health as the primary motive. About 43 percent identified peer acceptance as a factor.

The report appears in the journal Childhood Obesity.

In the interviews, nearly all of the teens emphasized that it was their own decision to lose weight. According to teens, parents provided the most help simply by modeling healthy behaviors and providing healthier options for meals and snacks.

And timing really helps, Jensen said.

"There were some periods, like a transition to high school or to college, where we saw groups of teens who lost weight in those important periods," Jensen said. "It's sort of an opportunity to re-make yourself. There's a lot of change going on, so some teens decide to make a change to be healthier."

Another recent study found that 30 percent of adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Jensen said that the popularity ofThe Biggest Loserhelps increase awareness of healthy lifestyles, but he fears that it sets unrealistic expectations because of the seemingly instant results.

"None of these teens in our study lost weight in a hurry," Jensen said. "Their advice to other teens is to stay the course and sustain it over the long term. For most of them it was just a pound or two a week."
-end-
Participants in the new study come from the Adolescent Weight Control Registry, which Jensen launched with several colleagues at Brown University while doing a clinical residency in 2011. Jensen is the lead study author. His co-authors include BYU students Kara Duraccio and Sanita Hunsaker, Diana Rancourt of the University of South Florida, Elizabeth Kuhl of Wayne State University and Rena Wing of Brown University.

If you are 14 to 20 years old and have lost 10 pounds or more and kept it off at least a year, you are qualified for the Adolescent Weight Control Registry. To participate, go to weightresearch.org or call 801-422-6164.

Brigham Young University

Related Overweight Articles from Brightsurf:

Overweight and obesity are associated with a low sperm quality
Researchers from the Rovira i Virgili University in collaboration with researchers from the University of Utah have carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the association between adiposity (normal weight, overweight, obesity, and low weight) and the sperm quality.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Overweight from cosmetics
Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics. If pregnant women use cosmetics containing parabens that remain on the skin for protracted periods, this may have consequences for their child's subsequent weight development.

Overweight before age 40 increases the cancer risk
The risk of cancer increases considerably if you gain weight before the age of 40.

Overweight Danes are more likely to have overweight dogs according to new research
A new study from the University of Copenhagen reports that the prevalence of overweight dogs is markedly larger among overweight owners than among normal weight owners.

Overweight kids actually eat less right after stressful events
People often react to stress by binging on sweets or fattening comfort foods, cravings fueled by the appetite-stimulating stress hormone cortisol.

Abundant screen time linked with overweight among children
A recently completed study indicates that Finnish children who spend a lot of time in front of screens have a heightened risk for overweight and abdominal obesity, regardless of the extent of their physical activity.

Overweight, obesity in children across Europe
This study (called a systematic review and meta-analysis) combined the results of 103 studies with nearly 478,000 children (ages 2 to 13) to look at how common overweight and obesity are among children across Europe.

Overweight men are inhibiting childbirth
About 15% of couples in fertile age have experienced fertility problems.

Being overweight as a teen may be associated with cardiomyopathy in adulthood
The risk of developing cardiomyopathy, which often leads to heart failure, increased in adult Swedish men who were even mildly overweight around age 18.

Read More: Overweight News and Overweight Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.