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Monday, January 21, 2013

Teen Health: Communicating What’s Best

Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that can make a huge impact in a teen’s health.  Learn more here in Part Three of our month-long series on teen health from Kim Seidel, writer-editor for Seidel Ink, LLC, and mother of a teen and a tween. Also, check out why sharing family meals and exercise is so important to your teen in Part 1 and Part 2.

Limit screen timeChoose exercise over watching television. Limiting screen time, including television, computer, and video playing, is a huge factor in achieving a healthy lifestyle.
Ann Kulze, a nationally recognized expert in nutrition and author of “Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet” recommends keeping personal screen time to one hour per day.

“Research has found that children and teens that have more than two total hours of screen time per day are much more likely to be overweight or obese,” Fleming says. “Overweight teens are also more likely to have a television in their bedrooms, which increases the average viewing time by 30 minutes.”

Talk to your teen
“We underestimate our teens’ motivation to be healthy,” Kulze says. “When I talk to teens, they care a lot more than we realize. As a teenager, they often have a flippant attitude about life, so it’s easy to assume they don’t care. We misjudge them.”

Talking to your teen regularly about healthy eating and exercising does work, she says.
“Children and teens respond better to doing what is good or right versus avoiding or refraining from what’s wrong or bad,” Kulze says.

In other words, focus on the positive when discussing health issues with your teenager.
Offer ideas like, “Fruits and vegetables are important. Work on eating more of these in your diet.”
Avoid demands such as, “Johnny, I don’t want you to eat French fries anymore,” or “You don’t need that piece of cake.”

The importance of healthy eating and exercising now for teenagers will affect their lives far into their adult years. Yet for teens, their mortality is too far removed from their reality.

“Teens are motivated by feeling great, having energy, and having better academic and sports performance,” Kulze says. Parents need to learn “what pushes their buttons,” and speak to their teenagers in terms of what would motivate them to eat better and to exercise more.

Photo Source: National Institute of Health


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