The basic concept of weight loss is simple. Eat more calories than you burn and you gain weight. Burn more calories than you eat and you lose weight. This can be called the caloric balance. Go to any personal trainer, dietitian or fitness expert; ask them about weight loss and they will talk to you about the caloric balance. It is, after all, vital that you have a negative calorie balance for weight loss to occur. This rule is universal and doesn't matter if you are an adult, a child or a teenager.
But is there a difference between the processes of weight loss for adults and weight loss for kids and teens? Do younger people need to do different things to adults in order to lose weight? The answer is yes and no.
Kids and teens, just like adults need to burn more calories than they eat if they are to lose weight. But there are some important factors that need to be taken into consideration for a kid or teenager to lose weight in an optimal and healthy manner.
Firstly, consider nutrition. Young people are still growing, therefore it becomes even more important that their bodies are not starved of calories. Fad diets are unhealthy for adults but fad diets are dangerous for kids and teenagers. Stunted growth and impaired hormone production are just two risk factors of extreme diets for kids and teenagers.
While weight loss may be the main goal, kids and teens still need to pay attention to providing their bodies with the necessary nutrients. These nutrients are required in different levels to adults. For example, a teenage boy needs more protein than a sedentary adult. A young female will require more calcium than an older male. The list goes on and it is important that all the nutritional requirements are met. It may be necessary for a young individual to have a weight loss coach, personal trainer or nutritionist to help them with this because it is very important that this aspect is covered. And when calories are restricted it may take the knowledge of a qualified weight loss coach to devise a plan where nutrient requirements are met while the negative calorie balance is maintained.
Then there is exercise. Some exercises that are great for adults may be dangerous for kids or teenagers. Their young bodies call for a more precise approach to exercise type, volume and intensity. A very young child should not be expected to endure long training sessions. They will burn out both mentally and physically. Even as the child goes into their teen years the risk of burnout from following a typical workout program designed for fully grown individuals remains high.
So while kids and teens still need to maintain a negative calorie balance, they have to lose weight in a different way to their parents would have to. Kids and teenagers need to lose weight in a way that still allows them to meet their nutritional needs and maintain overall health.