Nutrition in Adolescence
Adolescence is one of the most exciting yet most challenging periods in human development. It is a period of life that occurs between 12 and 21 years of age and tremendous physiologic, psychologic and cognitive transformation takes place, during which a child becomes a young adult. Peer influence and acceptance may become more important than family values. All these changes have a direct effect on the nutrient needs and dietary behaviors.
The requirement of energy varies greatly between teens as a result of differences in the body composition, degree of physical maturation and level of physical activity. Energy requirements also depend on levels of activity such as sedentary, low active, active and very active. Recent concerns about excessive intake among adolescents have centered on the intakes of added fat and sugars in their diets. Not only sugar but the intake of soft drinks, candies, cakes, cookies, corn, potato, chips, baked foods, and snacks has also increased which has led to an increase in caloric intake.
Teens who are very active and involved in sports and other games need additional carbohydrates to maintain additional energy intake as compared to teens who are not active or have a sedentary lifestyle. Whole grains are the preferred source of carbohydrates because these foods provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber. The intake of fiber is low in teens because of poor intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Also intake of protein and calcium should be increased for adequate development of bone and bone turnover.