HealthDay News — When teenagers are overweight, parents and doctors should encourage a healthy lifestyle rather than focus on the number on the scale, according to new guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and published online August 22 in Pediatrics.

In the new guidelines that address both adolescent obesity and eating disorders, the AAP says adults should move away from “weight talk,” and instead help children have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

The AAP recommends having family meals as often as possible. Research indicates that children who sit down to eat with their family tend to eat more healthy foods, and are less likely to diet or take extreme measures to lose weight.

“The focus should be on a healthy lifestyle rather than on weight,” write the authors of the guidelines. “Evidence suggests that obesity prevention and treatment, if conducted correctly, do not predispose to eating disorders.”

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