*The following is excerpted from an online article from The Oracle.
It’s true that teens often make fun of overweight peers, but a teen’s motivation to lose weight may have nobler underlying reasons than avoiding ridicule or impressing others.
A recent study surveyed around 30 adolescents who successfully lost at least 10 pounds and maintained their weight loss for more than a year.
Contrary to common preconceptions, the main motivation for weight loss among the adolescents was the desire for better health and self-worth, rather than to impress peers.
Diana Rancourt, a University of South Florida professor with a doctorate in clinical psychology, collaborated on the study and based her findings from her studies in the university area.
"The adolescents had the intrinsic motivation to lose weight and to encourage changes in their environment,” Rancourt said. “There was a lot of initiative taken by the teens and we expected it to be more of a mutual process and more peer influence."
People still think of adolescents as being influenced by their family and other friends, so the independence of the teens in the study was an interesting find.
"The teens made the decision to lose weight; it wasn’t their mom and it wasn’t their friends,” Rancourt said."
Though the sample size among students for the study was small, Rancourt said she believes it’s enough to call for a cultural shift encouraging children to care more about their health for health’s sake.
Rancourt said that though the adolescents in the study were independent in making decisions, parents did still play a factor in inspiring weight loss. "Parents can change what’s in the household for food and make the options healthier, but ultimately it must be the adolescent that chooses what they want,” Rancourt said. “The best thing the parents can do is to make sure the teen has healthy options that they want."