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  • Writer's pictureCathy Dyer

Nearly 38% Of US Teens Are Trying To Lose Weight

Are their methods healthy?

The percentage of teens trying to lose weight has risen along with their rates of overweight and obesity. While approximately 24% of U.S. adolescents tried to lose weight in 2009-2010, almost 38% tried during 2013-2016.

A new data brief released by the National Center for Health Statistics (July 2019) provides important information about which teens attempt to lose weight and how they go about it.

How adolescent healthy weight, overweight, and obesity are defined can be found here:

Overall, significantly more girls (45.2%) try to lose weight than boys (30.1%).

The high percentage among girls is due, in part, to the fact that almost 28% of girls who are attempting to lose weight are already at a healthy weight.

Hispanic adolescents are significantly more likely to try to lose weight (50.8%) than non-HIspanic whites (33.1%), non-Hispanic blacks (31.8%), and non-Hispanic Asians (28.4%).

Boys in the obese BMI category are the teens most likely to attempt weight loss (80.5%).

The good news is teens are making efforts to manage their weight. The bad news is four out of every 10 teenagers aged 16-19 is devoting valuable brain space during this important developmental time of their life to weight loss efforts. Sadder still is the fact that the majority of them trying to lose weight actually do have a BMI in the overweight or obese category.

How Do Teens Attempt Weight Loss?

Results from the 2013-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicate that 16.5% of teens attempting to lose weight skipped meals. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages meal skipping (see September, 2016 article: Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents, in the journal Pediatrics).

Overall, teens are using healthy strategies in their weight management attempts. Using exercise to lose weight was reported by 83.5% of the teens attempting weight loss. They are eating less and they are eating better.

If your teen has a weight issue, you may want to read these blog posts:


Neville H. Golden, MD, FAAP, Marcie Schneider, MD, FAAP, Christine Wood, MD, FAAP, COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION, COMMITTEE ON ADOLESCENCE, SECTION ON OBESITY;  Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents. Pediatrics, September 2016, VOLUME 138/ISSUE 3, From the American Academy of Pediatrics, Clinical Report


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