LOGAN — Some teenagers may be tempted to try diet shakes and bars and weight-loss supplements to help them obtain their ideal figure, but studies show nothing beats good, old-fashioned diet and exercise.
If teens really want to lost weight, or just become more healthy, they should increase physical activity and cut down on their caloric intake, Dr. Scott Anzalone, an Ohio family practitioner, said.
A study conducted by Dr. Robert L. Berkowitz of the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia tested three weight-loss regimens on more than 100 obese teens and their families. Some kids followed a 1,300- to 1,500-calories-a-day diet for one year, some ate meal replacement products like Slim Fast for four months and then went on a low-calorie diet, and others ate only meal replacement products for one year.
Even though the teens on meal replacements shed more pounds at first, by the end of the year, those following the low-cal diet had a Body Mass Index reduction of 2.8 percent, compared with 3.4 percent for those who only ate meal replacement products. Statistically speaking, there was no significant difference in degree of weight loss among the groups in the study.
Although Anzalone said he hasn’t seen a lot of teens get caught up in dietary fads, he noted that diet products and supplements alone cannot give a teenager enough of their necessary daily vitamins and proteins for growth.
"The primary ingredient in a lot of the diet or weight-loss drugs is caffeine," Anzalone said. And sometimes caffeine is masked as "green tea extract" or other such labels in the ingredients list.
"When we do a consult for weight loss for teenagers or adults, the one thing we really stress is lifestyle changes," he said. "For kids’ development and growth, we usually recommend to get a good, healthy, balanced diet and to eat in moderation."
Fruits and vegetables also are needed to grow well and be healthy, he said. Anzalone added it’s important to implement these changes in a school setting as well, so when it comes time for children to make their own food decisions, they can choose wisely.
"The biggest problem is most overweight teens don’t try anything," the physician explained. "The biggest crisis in the country is childhood obesity and it’s not being recognized by the child or the family."
Anzalone said the biggest culprit to childhood and teen obesity is the overall lack of activity; most teens lead a sedentary lifestyle and overeat.
"The fast food mentality of not eating healthy leads to the continued gain of weight," he said.