IntroductionEnvision an elderly woman who is very weak, frail, and sickly looking.
She cannot take part in normal daily activities, due to her ailment. She has very thin hair, skin, and nails. This woman appears to have aged physically beyond her years. She cannot enjoy the hobbies that she has in the past, because of the lack of muscle strength and bone density. The majority of her day is spent lying in bed watching television, only getting up when totally necessary to avoid pain and suffering. The cause of this womans pitiful predicament is her dietary habits.
She does not get the proper vitamins and minerals, nor does she practice normal eating patterns (skips meals) which can deter the body to carry out its normal daily functions. An insufficient amount of protein, carbohydrates, calories, fat, and vitamins and minerals can cause the body to shut down. Just as a car needs gasoline to run, the human body needs proper nutrients to function. This situation could have been avoided if this woman had been educated properly during her younger years. Nutritional RequirementsGood nutrition is important at any age, but especially during adolescence. During this time span from age ten to fifteen for girls and age twelve to nineteen for boys, childrens height increases, hormones change, and activities increase (Trends, web).
Following the Food Guide Pyramid is the best way to ensure all needed nutrients are obtained. People should eat 6 to 11 servings from the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group; 2 to 4 servings from the fruit group; 3 to 5 servings from the vegetable group; 2 to 3 servings from the milk, yogurt, and cheese group; 2 to 4 servings from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group; and use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly (Anspaugh, 34). Along with following the Food Guide Pyramid (see figure 1), teenagers need a greater amount of calcium for bone growth, strengthening, and to prevent osteoporosis later in life. All adolescents need more iron; girls experience the onset of menstruation and boys have an increase in lean mass (Trends, web). Caloric needs vary for each child depending on amount of growth, physical activities, and level of maturation (Backgrouder, web).
Figure 1Eating PatternsThe average teen diet consists of large amounts of fast food, snacks high in fat, few vegetable and fruits, and even skipping meals (Casey, 931). A recent study at Louisiana State University published in the News-Star stated, potato chips and French fries make up more than one-quarter of the vegetable servings eaten by children, and nearly one-third of the veggies eaten by teenagers (New Orleans, 5A). The US Department of Agricultures Healthy Eating Index shows that todays adolescent diet needs improvement and that the overall HEI score declines as a child matures to an adult. The US Department of Agriculture also reports the increase in liquid calories consumed because soft drinks are replacing milk in many diets (Evers, 20).
Another important factor is the rising number of teen vegetarians who may not get enough of the important vitamins and minerals needed during this growth phase. Calcium, protein, and iron are often lacking from a vegetarian diet and may not be added through intake of dietary supplements (Trends, web). Fast food and eating out contributes greatly to the decline in nutritious content of the average teen diet. Also, the proper number of meals a day should be maintained by all ages to remain healthy (see figure 2).
This table shows approximately how many servings of nonfat, lean foods are needed for three different calorie levels (1,600, 2,200, and 2,800 calories). HOW MANY SERVINGS DO YOU NEED EACH DAY?CHILDREN, WOMEN, OLDER ADULTSTEEN GIRLS, ACTIVE WOMEN, MOST MENTEEN BOYS, ACTIVE MENCALORIE LEVELABOUT 1,600ABOUT 2,200ABOUT 2,800Milk & Milk Products Group2 to 42 to 42 to 4Meat & Meat Alternatives Group223Vegetable Group345Fruit Group234Bread & Cereal Group6911Total Fat (grams)36 to 5349 to 7362 to 93 Table 1Over the past 40 years, fast food has appeared everywhere, from stores and airports to athletic events and schools. In 1997, the United States spent $100 billion consuming fast food (Schlosser, web). According to an article in Rolling Stone Magazine, Americans now spend more money on fast food .