Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers

This is a great healthy lifestyle guide for adolescents from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

In it you’ll find the following:

“As you get older, you’re able to start making your own decisions about a lot of things that matter most to you. You may choose your own clothes, music, and friends. You also may be ready to make decisions about your body and health.

Making healthy decisions about what you eat and drink, how active you are, and how much sleep you get is a great place to start. Here you’ll learn

I have only two complaints about the guide. 

First, what about youth who are not motivated by presenting them with just straight facts and health guidelines? 

Unfortunately for many youth, health is not a strong motivating influence on their behavior choices. 

For these and most youth, we recommend a 3-step evidence-based Prevention Plus Wellness messaging approach for motiving youth behavior change.

Step One, ask youth about their current health behaviors to increase awareness of both their health-promoting and health-risk habits.

Step Two, highlighting the short-term salient benefits of individual health habits like physical activity, nutrition, and sleep, including future desired images attained by making small behavior changes. 

In addition, list how health risk habits, such as alcohol and drug use, specifically interfere with achieving the short-term benefits and positive images from practicing healthy habits.

Step Three, have youth write a goal plan pledging to avoid health-behavior damaging substance use while also improving one or more health-promoting behaviors.

Don’t forget to have someone co-sign the goal plan to make it a public contract, thereby increasing its motivational influence on youth.

My second concern about this health guide was that it completely ignored discussing the role of risky health behaviors such as substance use.

If youth are going to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, it will necessitate not only engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors such as sleep, physical activity, and eating healthy, but also avoiding those habits that are harmful to engaging in healthy behaviors and achieving desired benefits from them.

These benefits include improved self-identity such as looking and feeling more active, fit, and successful in sports, school, career or whatever youth choose!

Learn more about the motivational 3-step PPW Logic Model: https://preventionpluswellness.com/pages/ppw-logic-model

Read the health guidelines for teenagers: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/take-charge-health-guide-teenagers

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