Achieving good grades in school, fitting in with peers and figuring out their identities—teenagers face many pressures. Unfortunately, among these pressures is body image expectations, high standards that have been shaped by media and society. No matter what their body type is, some teens might view weight loss pills as a tempting solution. In fact, according to a University of Minnesota study, 20% of 2,500 teen girls surveyed had tried diet pills by the time they turned 20.
Diet pills can be dangerous. It’s important to educate your teen on the potential risks and encourage them to pursue safer weight loss options.
Weight loss pills are used just for that—weight loss. Unfortunately, self image and weight loss can be a difficult subject for teens. Using weight loss pills has the potential to increase or reinforce feelings of insecurity and negative self body image. Your teen might be in healthy shape, but they might simply want to use weight loss pills because of how they compare themselves to others and “ideal” body types. For your teen’s long-term physical and emotional health, it’s better to promote a combination of physical exercise and nutritious foods.
Physical Effects of Weight Loss Pills
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One little known fact about diet pills is that their effects can actually be quite similar to amphetamines. In fact, many can contain harmful chemicals such as ephedrine or phenylpropranolamine which can have stimulant effects and speed up the central nervous system, leading to a “high.”
Furthermore, some diet pills are even addictive and can lead to other serious consequences for teens’ long-term health, such as insomnia, agitation, high blood pressure and increased heart rates.
Alternatives to Weight Loss Pills
If your teen is really wanting to make healthy lifestyle choices, there are ways that you can encourage them and promote healthy habits instead of dangerous quick fixes like weight loss pills.
One of the best ways to feel good physically is to eat a balanced, well-rounded diet. Sometimes we hear the word “diet” and think that it’s all about restricting what we can eat. In fact, a “healthy diet” includes everything we put into our bodies and is all about moderation and balance. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins and even the occasional treat are all important elements.
Next, promoting healthy, balanced exercise in your teen’s life (and your whole family’s) is another way to promote healthy weight control. Getting enough exercise doesn’t have to be a hassle—there are even exercises your teen can easily do at home.
Beyond healthy exercise and balanced eating, encourage your teen to feel good about who they are are, inside and out. Maintaining a healthy self image might be a struggle for many teens, but you can be a role model and remind them just how amazing and special they are.
Are you concerned your teen might be suffering from an eating disorder? Make an appointment with your family doctor to learn about available options for treatment.
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