Adolescence is a phase of rapid physical and intellectual development. One of the most critical elements influencing pubertal growth is nutrition. More energy-dense proteins and micronutrients are required to deal with the quick linear pubertal growth and development, change in body composition, and increasing physical activity.
An adequate diet significantly facilitates the proper timing and pace of pubertal growth. Severe primary or secondary malnutrition can negatively impact the start and course of puberty.
The increased prevalence of bulimia and anorexia nervosa in teens puts pubertal development at risk for malnutrition.
Eating a balanced, diverse diet is crucial to meeting dietary needs. Teenagers’ diets put them at risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis based on how much-saturated fat, total fat, sodium, and calcium-containing foods and soft drinks they consume.
Poverty and socioeconomic inequality continue to pose significant barriers to accessing a wide variety of healthy foods.
🔸 Adolescent Obesity:
When people eat more than is necessary, they become obese. The extra calories are deposited as body fat when the body consumes more food than it requires for energy. Highly active bodies require more calories than inactive ones.
As a result, obesity can occur from excessive eating, a lack of activity, or a combination of the two. The difficulty with having too much body fat is that it could lead to several different health problems.
Obesity’s propensity to prevent the body from correctly utilizing blood sugar may contribute to the development of diabetes.
🔸 Undereating and malnutrition:
Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies and unhealthy eating patterns. Later-life issues like osteoporosis, obesity, hyperlipidemia, delayed sexual development, and final adult height could result from this.
Additionally, prevalent at this time is the development of eating disorders.
🔸 Unhealthy eating habits:
Treats, processed foods, and sugary beverages are frequently loaded with natural or artificial sweeteners, fat, and salt and do not provide any nutrition or other advantages to a teenager’s diet.
Too many servings of these foods and beverages have been associated with weight gain, poor health, and tooth disease.
🔸 Eating problems:
Teenagers frequently suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Malnutrition, cardiac issues, and even mortality are among the significant health repercussions that these illnesses can have. It is mandatory to seek help from a professional for eating disorders.
How To Ensure Proper Nutrition For Teenagers?
To ensure appropriate nutrition at the home level and to address behavior modification to affect dietary change in teenagers, food-based strategies, including dietary modification and food fortification, are recommended as the key methods for enhancing adolescent nutrition.
The control of micronutrient deficiencies, routine nutrition assessment and counseling of adolescents, intersectional linkages at the community level, and building links with adolescent-friendly health services can all help achieve this.
School-based nutrition interventions, using a social marketing approach, behavior change through communication, and mobilizing families and communities can also help achieve this.
Some extra suggestions for encouraging teen diets
Make nutritious meals accessible So that teenagers can easily reach them, and keep wholesome snacks and meals readily. Cooking meals together is a fantastic method to teach teenagers about healthy eating and cooking. It should be necessary to make them love the process of cooking.
Teenagers are more inclined to eat healthily if their parents and other adults are doing so, so set a good example for them. Teenagers need time to establish wholesome eating habits. As they attempt to make healthy decisions, be kind and encouraging.
Teenagers should consume a balanced diet to receive the nutrients they require, which might be challenging due to dietary issues. For optimal growth and normal pubertal development, one must eat sufficient, balanced, and healthy food throughout the rapid phase of the pubertal growth surge.
Early puberty can be brought on by consuming too much of certain proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins. In contrast, deficiency of several micronutrients (iron, zinc, vitamin D) and some macronutrients (proteins, essential amino acids, calories, and essential fatty acids) can significantly postpone the start of development and bone accretion during this crucial time of growth.
Although some studies suggested that adding more proteins and calories to food and fortifying it with micronutrients could help malnourished children and adolescents, long-term controlled studies are still necessary to prove that these measures positively impact pubertal development and linear growth.