During adolescence there is a high susceptibility to nutritional deficiencies and poor eating habits. This may lead to problems later on in life such as osteoporosis, obesity, hyperlipedemia, sexual maturation delays, and final adult height. The development of eating disorders is also prominent during this time.
Adolescents require extra nutrients due to a growth spurt, which girls experience during the ages of 10 or 11, reaches its peak at age 12 and is completed by about age 15. In boys, it begins at 12 or 13 years of age, peaks at age 14 and ends by about age 19.
Adequate amounts of iron and calcium are important as the adolescent body undergoes the growth period. At the ages of 9 to 18 years, both males and females are encouraged to have a calcium rich diet in order to have proper calcium deposits in the bones. This may help reduce obtaining osteoporosis in later years.
Eating disorders are also common among teens whose food choices are influenced by society’s pressures to have the ideal look. Some eating disorders are classified as anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating or binge eating. Both anorexia and bulimia can lead to convulsions, kidney failure, irregular heartbeats, osteoporosis and dental erosion.
Adolescents suffering from compulsive overeating disorder are at risk for heart attack, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, kidney disease, arthritis, and stroke.
Healthy eating during adolescence is important because an individual’s nutritional and dietary needs are in a time of change. Adolescents are becoming more independent and making many food decisions on their own. Many adolescents experience an increase in appetite and need healthy foods to meet their growth needs. Adolescents tend to eat more meals away from home than younger children. Meal convenience is important to many adolescents and they may be eating too much of the wrong types of foods.
By setting a good example you can promote good nutrition in an adolescents diet. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise should be a regular part of your family’s life. It is much easier if everyone in the house follows these guidelines, than if the child has to do it alone. You should also buy low-calorie and low fat meals, snacks and desserts, low fat or skim milk and diet drinks. Avoid buying high calorie desserts or snacks, such as snack chips, regular soft drinks or regular ice cream.
The Food Pyramid shows a range of servings for each food group.
How much you actually eat depends on your age and activity level. Teenage boys who are active require about 2800 calories and should eat the highest range of servings. Teenage girls who are active require about 2200 calories and should eat servings in the middle of the range of servings. Adolescents who are overweight and dieting should at least eat the lowest range of servings. When determining how many servings to eat, it is important to look at the serving size. Larger portions should count as more than one serving, and smaller portions will count as only a part of a serving.
During the adolescent stage in a human’s life they go through rigorous body changes that require a well maintained diet. There are also many peer pressures from society that affect an adolescent’s way of handling his or her body. This usually leads to many disorders that are detrimental to the body. With good nutrition knowledge and a good positive family surrounding can help adolescents avoid making wrong decision that can affect their life now or in their future.
Adolescent Nutrition. Alice Carrol.
2003.Louisian State University. March 29,2005.
US Department of Health and Human Services. Child Health USA, 2001. Health
Resources and Service Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Lin B, Guthrie J, Frazao E. America’s children’s diets not making the grade. FoodReview 2001;24:8-17. .