Weight gain is completely normal before puberty. However, if it is too high and does not stabilize, it is important for parents to worry about it. Why do we gain weight during adolescence? How to lose weight with a diet? With sports? What dangers? We checked Arnaud Cocaul, a nutritionist in Paris.
Why do we gain weight during adolescence?
Before puberty, at the end of childhood, weight gain is normal. “It’s physiological. For young women especially, it allows them to have their period, because it requires fat mass. This allows the hormones to mature. It’s about a energy storage that anticipates acceleration of metabolism and development of the body“, explains Arnaud Cocaul, a nutritionist in Paris.
When should parents worry?
“The runaway weight curve should challenge parents“, said Dr. Cocaul. For the doctor, it is important above all to check if the beginning of this weight gain corresponds to a traumatic event for the child or teenager. “Death, divorce, family tension… All these need to be combined for the weight loss process to succeed. The psychological aspect is important in management“, added the specialist. According to a DREES survey, published in 2019, in 2017, 18% of teenagers in third grade are overweight and 5% are obese. “Between 2009 and 2017, the prevalence increased, both for overweight (respectively 17% to 18%) and obesity (3.8% in 2009, against 5% in 2017)“, said the report.
What is BMI at a young age?
BMI is the Body Mass Index which is weight divided by height squared. This allows to evaluate the construction of an individual. In teenagers, during growth, it should be interpreted according to age and sex. The corpulence curve is one of the important criteria for making a diagnosis and predicting weight gain. To calculate BMI in children and adolescents, one should know his weight, height, age and sex. BMI is plotted on the corpulence curve corresponding to the child’s sex in the health record.
The first instinct? Don’t talk about food nor submitting a teenager to a strict diet, it can be completely unproductive. “You have to be very careful with this. While dieting many teenagers, especially teenage girls, develop eating disorders. It requires heavy knowledge for health, which can lead to death. We are talking about a real public health problem that is likely to intensify. So no diet“, warned Arnaud Cocaul.
Don’t talk about dieting or putting a teen on a strict diet
In this logic, there is no dietary restrictions. “Otherwise, the process will fail. It is necessary teach him to eat well and prevent it from growing. If taken care of early enough, because he continues to grow, the teenager does not need to lose weight. The goal is not to lose weight but not to gain weight“, nuance our expert. To prevent the installation of kilos in children and teenagers, it is important to put an end to bad behaviorsuch as eating in front of the television or computer.
What rules should be established?
- food on the table, no screen
- Eat every mealincluding breakfast, which avoids cravings and fast consumption of food that is often fatty and very sweet
- Eat at meal time and not outside
- Do not eat in bed or on the sofa
“In addition, it is important to eat less processed foods and move. This is what needs to be watched and watched over. If the teenager understands the issue, he will lose weight without hearing the word diet once, nor having entered a diet.“, assured the nutritionist.
This is clear recommended to encourage him to do some physical exercise, which does not exceed the sea. “In my practice, I conduct an interrogation to understand the teenager’s lifestyle: how many hours spent in front of the television every day, what activity during a week, how many hours to walk…? We often notice that some teenagers don’t act anymore“. A situation that can easily become harmful. According to the recommendations of the Ameli.fr website, A young person aged 12 to 17 should plan at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day, to limit sitting. -or don’t stay seated for more than 2 consecutive hours- and sleep between 8:30 am and 9:30 am every night. Sleep is an important parameter because fatigue triggers the feeling of hunger and the desire to eat.
These centers authorized for the management of childhood and adolescent obesity can be very beneficial for health. “But France has very few centers of this type and the waiting time is very long, at least a year for most. So priority is given to the most serious cases, which is completely normal, but, if nothing is done, the situation can quickly worsen for other teenagers…“, regretted the professional.
What drugs to lose weight in youth?
Taking medicine is not recommended at all and is dangerous. “You don’t need to take medicine to lose teenage weight. None is authorized now in France and it’s better because the effects are great. This kind of risk for a teen- It’s not worth it!”
Abnormal teenage weight gain is a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. “The longer you delay, the greater the risk of the teenager to continue his obesity, to develop pathologies such as diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension…“explained the doctor. Excess weight gain is dangerous, like a strict diet. “Adolescence is a very physiological time and the risks of disabilities are real: fatigue, reduced resistance to infections, muscle pain… “
- Don’t rush
- Follow a specialist
Thanks to Arnaud Cocaul, nutritionist in Paris, for his expertise.