Teenagers in Turmoil

I can relate to the worries and concerns a parent faces when their teen panics at the onset of puberty and the fluctuating weight that can sometimes accompany it.

Posted on | Mehmet Oz, MD | Comments ()

I can relate to the worries and concerns a parent faces when their teen panics at the onset of puberty and the fluctuating weight that can sometimes accompany it. 

Adolescence is the make-or-break age when most teenagers begin to shape their self-image and establish their place in society; a beauty-conscious society heavily influenced by the glamour of the entertainment industry can distort that image. As parents, we should understand that the most critical part of setting a healthy example is to help our teens confront pressures from the media as well as those from peers.

On Thursday’s (March 11, 2010) show, I met Lori and her daughter Brice, two beautiful women who are both struggling with their weight. My first concern was the physical example Lori had set for her daughter, but what resonates with too many young people is something 16-year-old Brice knows all too well: The challenges of being an overweight teenager go far beyond what’s physical.

In the midst of these challenges, what stood out most to me was the loving and supportive relationship between Brice and Lori. It was evident from the first moment I saw them together that these two were extremely close, and for Brice and other teens like her, that is an essential component to weight-loss success.

Dieting and exercise may be key, but when overweight teenagers are struggling daily to combat poor self-image and social isolation, it’s possible they could be doing more harm than good. When all they care about is squeezing into a peer-accepted image, they become prone to abusing diets or over-exercising in hopes of finding weight-loss shortcuts. Unfortunately, those shortcuts become emotionally dark detours, and making matters worse, they may hide them from their parents in shame and embarrassment.

I applaud parents like Lori, who has built and sustained a platform of preparedness with her daughter.  Because the two of them share such an emotionally supportive and comfortable bond, it becomes a much-needed constant for Brice to rely on. Also, it’s a bond that helps them map out a dieting and exercise plan conducive to the healthiest results.

Blog written by Mehmet Oz, MD
America’s Doctor and three-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning host of the Daytime Emmy-winning The Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz is also...