How To Lose Weight For Teens: 7 Healthy Weight Loss Tips [UK] 2023

Sevginur Akdas

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

how to lose weight for teens

Gaining healthy habits in the childhood and teenage period is crucial for the proper development of lifetime healthy habits. About 20% of teens between the ages of 12-19 have obesity.[1] If a teenager develops a healthy lifestyle, s/he can lower many risk factors for chronic diseases and have an easier time maintaining their recommended body weight. 

Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy body weight and know about weight management. If a teenager gains excess body weight, s/he can healthily lose weight by making small changes in their lifestyle. A strong, lean body is essential in this life period for a teen’s physical and mental health.

If you are wondering how to lose weight in the teenage years, read further.

7 Effective Tips For Teens To Lose Weight

  1. Healthy Eating Habits
  2. Set A Logical Goal
  3. Get Enough Sleep
  4. Exercise Regularly
  5. Control Portion Sizes
  6. Find Support
  7. Motivate Each Other

How To Lose Weight As A Teenager? 7 Tips To Follow

As a teenager, your child’s body is undergoing significant changes and developing important habits that will affect their health and well-being for the rest of their life. 

You may wonder how your teen can lose weight quickly yet safely. To do this, conversations with your teen should focus on the consistency and sustainability of those habits leading to successful weight loss. 

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases[1] has published a guide for teenagers titled “Take Charge: A Guide for Teens” that focuses on healthy weight management. The guide covers several important topics for teenagers to understand and implement for maintaining a healthy weight, such as

Healthy Eating Habits

how to lose weight for teens

One of the most important habits you can develop is a healthy diet.[2] A nutritious diet can help you to promote healthy weight loss, build strong bones and muscles, improve your mood and energy levels, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

Include a variety of foods in your diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. Ensure an adequate fiber intake by introducing it slowly and gradually into your teen’s diet to avoid gastric distress while increasing satiety. Ensure their protein intake is high enough for their active lifestyle and muscle-building.

Staying hydrated[3] can improve energy levels, focus, and physical performance. Drinking water can help control hunger and promote weight loss. It can also help prevent overeating by making you feel full. Staying away from sugar-laden sodas and popular sports drinks can also cut down on calories, and drinking these beverages is not great for hydration, anyway.

Set A Logical Goal

how to lose weight for teens

When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to set a goal that is both realistic and achievable. Start by determining your target weight, considering your current weight and body type, health status, and lifestyle. 

Then, set a timeline for reaching your target weight, considering the desired weight loss rate and the amount of time you can dedicate to healthy habits like eating right and exercising. 

To help you reach your goal, you can devise a plan that includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and stress management strategies. It is important to keep track of your progress along the way and not to be afraid to make changes to your plan if needed.

The best way to set an achievable weight loss goal is to plan it with your doctor and registered dietitian because they would consider all of these points. A safe rate of weight loss is one to two pounds per week, best achieved through increasing exercise by 60 minutes a day.

Get Enough Sleep

how to lose weight for teens

Sleep is crucial[4] in weight loss and overall health in every stage of life. Lack of sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate hunger and metabolism, leading to increased appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods. Poor sleep can also decrease energy levels and motivation for physical activity, negatively impacting weight loss efforts. 

Getting eight to ten hours of sleep per night[5] is recommended for optimal health and weight management. Disturbed sleeping patterns can lead to excessive snacking on the wrong foods and may even affect the metabolism.

Exercise Regularly

how to lose weight for teens

A meta-analysis[6] has shown that engaging in exercise can positively impact the body composition of overweight and obese adolescents, specifically by reducing body fat. Also, increasing the fat-free mass, or muscle mass, with exercise can contribute[7] to energy expenditure increment and aid fat loss in teenagers. 

Therefore, as a teenager, you can aim to be physically active every day. It is important to find an exercise that you enjoy and make it a part of your daily routine. By incorporating physical activity into your life, you can set a foundation for a healthy and active lifestyle that will benefit you now and in the future.

Control Portion Sizes

how to lose weight for teens

Controlling portion sizes is an important part of your weight loss journey. There are several strategies you can use to help you control your portion sizes and avoid overeating. 

You can use a smaller plate or bowl to help you control the amount of food you eat at each meal. It is important to listen to your body and stop eating when you feel satisfied, not when your plate is empty. 

Practicing mindful eating[8] can be effective because it involves paying attention to the food you are eating and focusing on the taste, texture, and satisfaction of each bite. This can help you eat more slowly and avoid overeating. Chew each bite thoroughly, savoring every mouthful in mindful eating. 

Find Support

how to lose weight for teens

Teens looking to lose weight can benefit from working with a doctor and a registered dietitian first. This is because a doctor can evaluate the teen’s overall health and determine if any underlying health issues need to be addressed. A registered dietitian can then create a safe and effective meal plan that considers the teen’s needs and health conditions.

Several psychological factors have been linked to teenage body weight, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, stress, negative body image, and low self-esteem. These factors can all be taken into consideration. By acknowledging the presence of these factors, healthcare providers can provide more comprehensive and effective treatment plans for those affected. Therapy[9] can help address underlying issues and provide support and coping strategies.

Motivate Each Other

how to lose weight for teens

Teenagers can be each other’s greatest motivators when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. You can join a sports team, dance, or fitness club together set achievable fitness goals, and track your progress. 

In addition, you can swap healthy recipes and cooking tips and plan meals together that are both delicious and nutritious. 

By sharing experiences and holding each other accountable, you can create a strong support system that helps you stick to your healthy habits and achieve your goals. 

Benefits To A Healthy Weight For Teens

A systematic review[10] indicated several motivations for teens to lose weight. The main ones are better health, esthetic reasons, improvements in self-esteem, and, unfortunately, avoidance of provocation/bullying. 

Therefore, having a healthy weight as a teenager brings several benefits to both physical and mental health: 

  • It reduces the risk of developing health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, that can be caused by being overweight or obese. 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight can improve physical fitness and increase energy levels and athletic performance. 
  • Having a healthy weight can boost self-confidence and improve mental health. It can help reduce body image concerns and increase self-esteem. 
  • Additionally, having a healthy weight can positively impact social relationships and interactions, increasing self-esteem and confidence and reducing feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for overall physical and mental health, as it can improve mood and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. 
  • Establishing healthy adolescent habits, including maintaining a healthy weight, can set the foundation for a healthy lifestyle in adulthood. 

Things To Avoid

If you don’t want to gain weight unintendedly or want to be successful in your weight loss journey, there are certain things that you should avoid, including:

Sugary Drinks 

how to lose weight for teens

A global meta-analysis[11] held with school-based student health surveys showed that 42.8% of adolescents drank carbonated soft drinks at least once per day. 

Sugary drinks are high in calories and provide little to no nutritional value, leading to weight gain and a higher risk of obesity and related health problems.

If you want to learn how to lose belly fat for teens, here is the answer: avoid sugar added-beverages because added sugar leads to an increase in insulin levels which causes central adiposity, in other words, fat accumulation in your belly.

Some of the alternatives instead of sugar-added soft drinks include:

  • Water with a squeeze of lemon or lime. 
  • Unsweetened tea or coffee.
  • Sparkling water with a dash of fruit juice. 
  • Herbal or fruit-infused water.
  • Milk or milk-based drinks such as smoothies without added sugar.

These alternatives are a great way to stay hydrated and provide important nutrients without added sugar and empty calories found in sugary drinks.

Junk Foods 

how to lose weight for teens

The same meta-analysis[11] also indicated that 46.1% of teenagers consumed fast food at least once per week. 

Fast food or processed foods are often high in calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars, which can contribute to weight gain. Also, snacks like chips, crackers, and cookies are often high in calories and low in nutrients.

Instead, opt for home-cooked meals that are prepared using healthy whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, or other healthy snacks like yogurt or nuts.

Sitting For Long

how to lose weight for teens

Being sedentary[12] for long periods, such as sitting in front of the TV or computer, can lead to weight gain and decreased physical activity levels. You should increase physical activity by participating in fun games or exercises, like playing sports or walking.

Skipping Meals

how to lose weight for teens

Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day, as well as slowed metabolism, which can both contribute to weight gain. Especially skipping breakfast[13] was found to be related to high body weight and body fat in teenagers, according to a systematic review of 43 articles involving 192,262 participants. 

Therefore, having main meals three times a day and including healthy snacks, if needed, help you to improve your weight management.


how to lose weight for teens

Do not resort to using laxatives to lose weight. This can lead to dehydration and only a temporary loss on the scale. It also sets you up for eating-disordered behavior, which may sabotage your weight loss goals in the long run.


Social media[14] has become the top source of weight loss information for teens. This may cause a lot of wrong information, disturbed eating habits, and eating disorders due to the changing body image, mainly in teen girls but increasingly so in teen boys.[15]

Extreme caloric restriction and crash diets should be avoided, as they can lead to nutrient deficiencies and negatively affect hormone balance, growth, and development. 

The goal should be slow, gradual weight loss instead of quick fixes or fad diets. A balanced diet[2] that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats is crucial for maintaining good health. 

The Bottom Line

Having a healthy body early in life has lifelong advantages. You may have entered this period of your life as overweight for various reasons. However, it is possible to reverse this situation with healthy lifestyle habits.

Most importantly, during your weight loss journey, you should listen to your body, avoid pushing too hard, and celebrate small victories along the way. Avoid comparing progress to others and focus on your own journey and progress, recognizing that everyone is different and will progress at their own pace. 

+ 15 sources

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  1. and, D. (2023). Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers. [online] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at:
  2. Whyte, H.E. and Findlay, S. (2004). Dieting in adolescence. Paediatrics & Child Health, [online] 9(7), pp.487–491. doi:
  3. ‌Popkin, B.M., D’Anci, K.E. and Rosenberg, I.H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews, [online] 68(8), pp.439–458. doi:
  4. Papatriantafyllou, E., Efthymiou, D., Zoumbaneas, E., Popescu, C.A. and Vassilopoulou, E. (2022). Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Nutrients, [online] 14(8), p.1549. doi:
  5. Sleep Foundation. (2022). How Much Sleep Should A Teenager Get? | Sleep Foundation. [online] Available at:
  6. Stoner, L., Rowlands, D., Morrison, A., Credeur, D., Hamlin, M., Gaffney, K., Lambrick, D. and Matheson, A. (2016). Efficacy of Exercise Intervention for Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adolescents: Meta-Analysis and Implications. Sports Medicine, [online] 46(11), pp.1737–1751. doi:
  7. Browning, M.G. and Evans, R.K. (2015). The contribution of fat-free mass to resting energy expenditure: implications for weight loss strategies in the treatment of adolescent obesity. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, [online] 27(3), pp.241–246. doi:
  8. Omiwole, M., Richardson, C., Huniewicz, P., Dettmer, E. and Paslakis, G. (2019). Review of Mindfulness-Related Interventions to Modify Eating Behaviors in Adolescents. Nutrients, [online] 11(12), p.2917. doi:
  9. Sagar, R. and Gupta, T. (2017). Psychological Aspects of Obesity in Children and Adolescents. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics, [online] 85(7), pp.554–559. doi:
  10. Silva, D.F.O., Sena-Evangelista, K.C.M., Lyra, C.O., Pedrosa, L.F.C., Arrais, R.F. and Lima, S.C.V.C. (2018). Motivations for weight loss in adolescents with overweight and obesity: a systematic review. BMC Pediatrics, [online] 18(1). doi:
  11. Beal, T., Morris, S.S. and Tumilowicz, A. (2019). Global Patterns of Adolescent Fruit, Vegetable, Carbonated Soft Drink, and Fast-Food Consumption: A Meta-Analysis of Global School-Based Student Health Surveys. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, [online] 40(4), pp.444–459. doi:
  12. Roake, J., Phelan, S., Alarcon, N., Keadle, S.K., Rethorst, C.D. and Foster, G.D. (2021). Sitting Time, Type, and Context Among Long‐Term Weight‐Loss Maintainers. Obesity, [online] 29(6), pp.1067–1073. doi:
  13. Souza, M.R., Neves, M.E.A., Gorgulho, B.M., Souza, A.M., Nogueira, P.S., Ferreira, M.G. and Rodrigues, P.R.M. (2021). Breakfast skipping and cardiometabolic risk factors in adolescents: Systematic review. Revista de Saúde Pública, [online] 55, p.107. doi:
  14. Jebeile, H., Partridge, S.R., Gow, M.L., Baur, L.A. and Lister, N.B. (2021). Adolescent Exposure to Weight Loss Imagery on Instagram: A Content Analysis of ‘Top’ Images. Childhood Obesity, [online] 17(4), pp.241–248. doi:
  15. Greenberg, B. (2018). Identifying Eating Disorders and Body Image issues in Boys. [online] US News & World Report. Available at:
Sevginur Akdas

Written by:

Sevginur Akdas, RD

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Sevginur Akdas is a researcher, medical writer, and clinical dietitian, who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in metabolism, chronic diseases, and clinical nutrition fields. She has many scientific articles, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and book chapters on nutrition, chronic diseases, dietary supplements, maternal and child nutrition, molecular nutrition & functional foods topics as a part of a research team currently. Besides her academic background, she is also a professional health&medical writer since 2017.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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