A new study has offered some valuable tips for obese teenagers who intend to lose weight, and the first tip is to shun those diet bars and shakes.
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.
Results showed that 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 (BMI) reduction of 2.8 percent, compared to a 3.4 percent reduction for the teens who only ate meal replacements.
"Diet shakes and drinks don't keep you full. And it's like putting a bandage on the problem. They aren't learning weight management skills," the New York Daily News quoted nutritionist Robyn Webb, MS, LN, director of A Pinch of Thyme, as saying.
"The teens who are eating bars and shakes probably don't have enough energy to be involved in any sports activities," Webb said.
Following a diet that encourages teens to make good food choices is more effective over the long haul, says Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, of CalorieCount.com.
"Shakes may get the caloric intake down but they haven't taught you anything about choices. It's a missed opportunity. You are putting the effort into the wrong thing - buying bars Slim-Fast for lunch. It's easier in the short run, but not over time," Hartley said.
And if young people followed a long-term, low-calorie diet, they could probably learn to cook too.
"When you're talking about teens learning new eating habits, they really learn quickly. They don't have to undo all the bad habits that adults have accumulated over the years," she said.