Nutrition is one of the most influential elements in human health. It is important to create healthy nutrition habits at a young age as this will have a favorable impact in our health as teenagers. Keeping these habits during adulthood will also help us stay healthy throughout our lives. However, it can be challenging for teenagers to follow healthy diets because unhealthy foods are popular, widely available, and make an easy meal or snack.
Male adolescents require 2,800 calories each day, while females require 2,200.
Calories from added sugars and solid fats make up 40% of daily calories in most teens, which has a very negative effect on health.
Only 36% of high school students eat breakfast every day.
20.6% of adolescents are obese.
Tips for a Healthy Diet
Increase intake of:
Fruits and vegetables
Proteins (nuts, eggs, beans, lean meats)
Healthy oils (extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil)
Whole grains (at least half of the grains you eat should be whole grain)
Vitamins and minerals (calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D)
Decrease intake of:
Solid fats (usually fats from animal origin)
Vegetarianism, a diet that excludes animal products, has been proven to have several health benefits (reduced risk of cancer, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, etc.) Diets that fall under the category of vegetarianism are:
Lacto-vegetarian: dairy products are included
Ovo-vegetarian: eggs are included
Pescatarian: fish products are included
Vegan: no animal products
To make sure you get enough of the nutrients you need, pay attention to the following:
How to Understand the Nutrition Facts Label
Nutrients and daily value: daily value tells you if you are getting enough or too much of the nutrients you need each day.
Nutrients to increase: these are essential nutrients that the average American is low on. These are listed here to encourage us to consume more of these nutrients.
Unhealthy Diets Can Cause:
High blood pressure
Type 2 diabetes
Worsening cognitive function
Common Eating Disorders
Anorexia: refusal to eat caused by an obsessive desire to lose weight
Bulimia: episodes of overeating are followed by self-induced vomiting or fasting
Binge-eating disorder: frequent episodes of overeating
Rumination disorder: repeatedly regurgitating food after consumption, associated with infants and people with intellectual disabilities
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder: refusal to eat for reasons other than fear of gaining weight
Obesity: weight that is higher than what is considered healthy for a given height
Obesity is currently one of the main public health crises in the United States. Obesity usually develops when you overeat (especially foods high in fats and sugars) and excercise too little. The energy that has not been burned is stored as fat. Obesity can cause several immediate health risks, including:
High blood pressure
Fatty liver disease
Future health risks:
Type 2 diabetes
Increased risk of obesity and disease risk factors during adulthood
Asking the Experts
Q: Do you think proper nutrition is currently a problem for teens?
A: Yes, eating a healthy diet is an important part for teen growth and development. The food we eat is used in our body to provide energy and nutrients like vitamins and minerals help bodies function properly. Over time, the foods we choose most often develop and shape our taste preferences and dietary habits. Some foods contain nutrients that if eaten frequently in large amounts are associated with health concerns as you get older. These foods are often lacking the nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. It is important to develop proper eating habits now to keep you healthy in the future.
Q: What do you think are some of the main ways to maintain proper nutrition in teenagers?
A: There are a few areas teens should consider when trying to improve their diets: