Most of us are familiar with Anne M. Fletcher as the author of Thin For Life, a classic in weight loss literature. Though originally published in 1994 (and updated in 2003), Thin For Life still stands out today as the enduring work on weight loss maintenance on a bookshelf cluttered with fad diets. Using interviews with real-life weight loss maintainers (‘weight loss masters’), it analyzed their strategies in order to compile ten ‘keys to success’ for permanent and sustainable weight loss. It’s a book we here at 3FC recommend highly; be sure to check out our chapter-by-chapter discussions in the Maintenance Library.
In her new book Weight Loss Confidential: How Teens Lose Weight And Keep It off – And What They Wish Their Parents Knew, Ms. Fletcher tackles the difficult problem of overweight teenagers. We’ve all heard the horrifying statistics: one third of children ages 2 through 19 are overweight or ‘at risk of overweight’ (these turn out to be code words for ‘overweight or obese’). What to do? While experts are wringing their hands and desperately looking for solutions to this epidemic, Anne Fletcher took a page from Thin For Life and went looking for teens who had succeeded at weight loss – her ‘masters’ – and interviewed them. Their experiences and recommendations make up Weight Loss Confidential.
The first teen she went to was her son, Wes. As it turns out, having a mom who’s a registered dietician and noted weight loss author still doesn’t prevent a child from becoming overweight (a relief to the rest of us parents!) Happily Wes today has lost 60 pounds and kept it off for more than three years. But his experiences highlight that, in a world of video games, TV, and junk food, all our children are at risk.
If you’re familiar with Thin For Life, you’ll recognize the basic outline of the book. General principles and guidelines are illustrated with excerpts from interviews, giving an insight and voice to teenagers who struggle with their weight. The core of the book is nine chapters, focusing on individualized strategies, setting a realistic weight, exercise, food plans, the role of parents, tracking and other key strategies. As we’d expect from Anne Fletcher, the last chapter highlights the continuing maintenance strategies of the teen masters (exercise being number one).
The one lesson that spans every chapter in Weight Loss Confidential is that the motivation to lose weight must come from the teenager. Yes, there are many ways that parents can help their children, but the decision to lose weight can’t be theirs; it must be the child’s. If you’re the parent of a teenager with a weight problem, the best things you can do are to read this book and to stand by to be your child’s resource and advocate when he or she is ready to act.
Weight Loss Confidential is a must-read book for all parents, whether your children currently have weight problems or not. It’s chock full of real world suggestions for getting families to eat healthier and move more together. And the last 50 pages are a valuable compendium of weight loss programs and Internet sites that are geared toward teenagers seeking to lose weight. With this book, Anne Fletcher has provided families with practical and proven advice for dealing with the obesity epidemic facing our children today.