Font Size
A
A
A

Helping Your Adolescent Develop a Healthy Body Image


Helping Your Adolescent Develop a Healthy Body Image

Adolescents often become extremely concerned about their bodies and their weight, which is understandable since dramatic physical changes are occurring. These concerns are compounded by unrealistic media images of the ideal teen body. In part because of these stresses, eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are common in teen girls and young women. Likewise, children who are overweight may be shunned by their peers and may develop low self-esteem.

How you talk about your child's body has a big impact on your child's self-image. No matter what your child's weight is, avoid talking in terms of your child's weight. Instead, talk in terms of your child's health, activity level, and other healthy lifestyle choices.

If you are concerned about your child's weight or body mass index (BMI), talk to your child's doctor. BMI is a number based on a person's weight and height. It is a way to estimate the effect of weight on health.

In your home, you can promote healthy eating and exercise as lifelong pursuits. You can involve your children in making healthy meals, for example. Modeling good eating and exercise habits may be one of the best ways to promote a healthy lifestyle. Setting up too many rules can lead to useless conflict.

Here are some healthy eating tips:

  • Limit foods that contain oils, fats, and sweets.
  • Eat a variety of foods.
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat milk. Drink water instead of calorie-laden soda pop.
  • Eat more vegetables, fruits, and grains.
  • Limit the amount of salt and sugar you add to your food. Avoid eating cereals with added sugar. Eat less candy and other sweets.

Dieting during the teen years requires special attention. Most doctors recommend that overweight teens increase physical exercise, change unhealthy eating behaviors, and let growth catch up to weight.

For more information on eating habits, see the topics Healthy Eating for Children and Weight Management.

For information on eating disorders, see the topics Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Bulimia Nervosa.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerThomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last RevisedJuly 19, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.





Medical Dictionary