Your teenager probably spends more time with his peers now than he has, or will, at any other point in his life. The people he hangs around with and what he chooses to do with the time can have a major impact on his weight-control success and motivation.
When you live in a town with few places for young people to get together, kids are often forced to gather at malls, fast-food restaurants, and pizza places, locations where your overweight teen faces even more temptation and pressure. Even the movies can be a food trap. (For more on helping your child face the concession stand, see Chapter 14.) Having an open-door policy for your teen's friends — and giving them some privacy and space when they do hang out at your home — can minimize the time they spend at the local McDonald's. It also allows you to get to know your child's circle of friends, something not all parents have the opportunity or take the time to do.
If there are more active venues in your town for teens to frequent, such as skateboarding parks and dance clubs, offer transportation and/or entrance fees to encourage these options. Once your teen starts driving, the logistical constraints on his social life will become less of a concern. However, if he's biked or walked everywhere until earning his license, it will be important for him to realize that he's losing that form of exercise and should replace it with another activity.