Adolescence is a transitional period between childhood and adulthood. Today, there are an estimated 1.2 billion teenagers aged 10 to 19. They are not kids or adults. To sustain their dramatic physical development and maturity, they have an increased nutritional requirement.
Following infancy, adolescence is the fastest-growing stage of life. Throughout this time, the adolescent’s development surge necessitates a boost in the intake of several nutrients. Calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and D are essential elements obtained by eating well.
Dietary problems are one of the most direct hazards to adolescent health, given the sharp rise in diseases including anemia, overweight, and obesity in this age category. Suppose a teen participates in sports, follows a particular diet, has an eating issue, or is pregnant.
In that case, they may require far more nutrients. From adolescence onwards, exposures to better nutrition — from good eating habits to the food environment — can lay the groundwork for a healthy life and good eating habits.
Various factors impacting diet include:
Encouraging adolescents’ health and well-being are crucial for their proper development. Poverty and financial inequality, on the other hand, continue to be important hurdles to getting a nutritious diet. It has long-term and generational implications.
Good eating habits developed during youth, including how much and what you consume, are more likely to be carried over into adulthood. Adolescent pregnancy, for example, can have an adverse influence on a girl’s and baby’s development and growth.
Malnutrition affects many adolescents in extremes. They vary from being underweight and deficient in micronutrients to overweight and obese. Another disorder is anemia. Anemia is associated with a lack of essential vitamins and malabsorption in the gut.
It means they don’t have adequate healthy red blood cells to supply sufﬁcient oxygen to their body’s tissues. This affects one out of every four teens and makes growth and development difficult. Anemia also results in lower productivity, which is crucial because most adolescents attend school and work.
In low and middle-income nations, the number of adolescents suffering from malnutrition is drastically higher. In terms of over-nutrition, one out of every five teenagers is overweight or obese, and the number is rising globally.
These problems are linked to a higher risk of experiencing diseases like diabetes or cancer and chronic health difficulties like hypertension.
Achieving nutritional demands requires a well-balanced and varied diet. Adolescents’ preference for unhealthy eating habits, like high-energy and high processed foods like sweeteners, beverages, and fast food, makes it difficult to make smart eating choices.
They have more control over what, when, and where they eat but are more susceptible to social pressures. Adolescents may have exposure to various eating contexts daily due to the multiple settings they experience, such as home, school, and work.
Food availability, cost, marketing, quality, and safety influence food surroundings. They impact dietary choices and are a big part of what teenagers eat.
Poverty is a significant factor that causes nutritional imbalances — specifically micronutrient deficits. This is common in countries of both high and low-income countries. Poverty-stricken families worldwide have faced heightened food shortages and instability due to the COVID-19 epidemic. This adds to the difficulty of adolescent nutrition.
Nutritional risks to today’s teens are numerous. Food insecurity is related to low income, poor dietary and lifestyle choices, and health disparities. Nutritional inequalities are increasing within countries, even though access to a nutritious and safe diet is an essential requirement.
This puts the “food poor” at a greater danger of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Adolescents’ lives can improve in the long run by identifying underlying inequities and providing proper nutrition programs.
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