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Hormones Affect Teens' Weight

Today's teens have a whole slew of issues to deal with, but one of the most frightening trends they're facing is the obesity epidemic. In fact, more American children today are obese than ever before - resulting in numerous health-related problems.

Dr. Erika Schwartz, author of "The Teen Weight Loss Solution," visited The Early Show to give both parents and teens tips on how to fight the battle of the bulge.

In her book, she explains how hormones affect teen bodies physically and emotionally; how to control and balance hormones; how to avoid the obesity trap; how to utilize natural supplements; and how to solve specific health problems beyond weight gain like PMS, mood swings and acne.

She offers an example to co-anchor Rene Syler: "This woman comes in with her 14-year-old daughter who is overweight, has acne and irregular periods. And they've been to every doctor. They've been on every diet. She's gone to a camp, and she keeps on losing and gaining, and then nothing happens. Nothing really works. Well, what's the problem? The problem is hormones, puberty. Hormones kick in, and some people do OK, and they don't get overweight. They don't have problems. Some people do."

In puberty, she explains, the body goes through hormone changes. Teens start looking like adults, but they're not adults. They still need all the help they can get. So parents need to help children balance their lives so they can be healthy.

Some kids have trouble adjusting to this stage. They become overweight, they get acne, and they have irregular periods. She notes, "You go to the doctors and they'll give you birth control pills to regulate your periods. And there is no reason to do that, because irregular periods go along with the first 24 years of life, until they regulate themselves."

Boys also have a problem with hormones, so Schwartz encourages parents to be supportive.

What parents can do:

  • Set the right example
  • Listen to your teen
  • Teach your teen body awareness
  • Teach them about food as way of life
  • Work together as a team

What teens can do:
  • Realize that you are unique
  • Learn to identify how you feel
  • Don't get on a diet roller coaster
  • Make exercise a way of life
  • Communicate with your parents

Though for most teens the last thing they want to do is to talk to their parents, Schwartz says, at the end of the day, we will follow our parents. If they have a good way of life, we will follow their way of life."

Visit her Web site to find out more about her book.

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