Assignment – Adolescent Nutrition

Adolescents are having a rapid growth and development period. It is called the critical period of an adolescent. So, they need a good nutrition to ensure better growth and development. The nutritional requirements of adolescents are influenced by the sprout of growth that occurs during the puberty. So, the nutritional needs of an individual person vary to one another. The food intake changes by the gender, environmental conditions, psychological status and economic status also. The food intake is very important here because it can decide about day to day energy needs and the maintenance of energy reserves. Because excess energy is reserved for future use and deficient of energy will cause certain deficiency disorders. Adolescence is the period that has a high physical growth rate. The growth is associated with hormonal, cognitive, emotional changes. Furthermore these changes make adolescent life stage as a vulnerable period of time. In that critical period, they have a greater demand for calories and nutrients. The reason is increment of physical growth and development within relatively short period of time. Other thing is that in the adolescent period their lifestyle and food habits are changing and it will affect to the nutrient needs and intake. As well, adolescents try to focus their food choices in to a narrow path individually.

Adolescence can be divided into three life stages. They are early adolescence, middle adolescence and late adolescents. Early adolescents are in the 11 to 14 years of age. This is the age that is responsible to the puberty and increase the cognitive development. Middle adolescence is defined as the 15 to 17 years of age and within this period their independence and experimentation ability increases. Late adolescents are in the 18 to 21 age range. The important thing is that they are able to make important personal and occupational decisions. So, having a proper nutrition during this period is very important because as mentioned above most of the special functions are developing during this period. So, proper nutrition is an important factor here. If they got a poor nutrition during this stage they will have consequences on their cognitive development and it may lead to decrease the learning ability, thinking ability and their educational performance as well. So, having a proper nutrition through a balanced diet is very important to them. When consider about the puberty, adolescents’ growth rate is highest then. In that period numbers of physiological and psychological changes occur. Specially, girls’ physical development is significant in that stage because their body makes several changes to getting ready for the pregnancy. From this age they are ready to bear a child. So, this is also a reason to say that adolescent is a critical period.

Since adolescent nutritional requirements are increasing they have to have a proper diet. The diet should include all the nutrients in correct proportions. They are Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals. There Carbohydrates, Protein and fat provide energy in form of calories. Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram and proteins also contain four calories per gram. Fat contains nine calories per gram. When consider about a usual adolescent girl (non-pregnant and non-lactating), generally need between 1600-2400 calories per day. Adolescent boys need 1800-3200 calories per day. Males need more energy than female because they have a higher physical activity level than females. The daily energy requirement changes because of several factors such as age, height, weight, physical activity level as well as gender. When consider about carbohydrates, it is an essential part of an healthy diet. Best sources of carbohydrates are whole grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables. These foods help to gain weight other than being a good energy source. Proteins are also an essential nutrient in the diet. If there is no enough protein in the diet there are is a risk for protein deficiency. So, the adolescents who restricted having animal foods(vegetarians) should be more careful of getting enough protein in their diets. Fats are also a necessary nutrient in the diet. But the unapprovable thing is that most adolescents have fats more than recommended levels. The saturated fats in foods are not good for the health and so they should limit consumption of them. Another important nutrient is that Vitamins and minerals. They have specific roles in growth and development in the body. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients in the body and so they need in little amounts. But, if they are not in the recommended levels there can be deficiency diseases can occur. Water is also an essential part of the diet. It involves almost everybody processes. It helps to carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body and to remove waste materials from the body. Also water regulates the body temperature as well.

If those nutrients are very important in the diet, most of the adolescents do not have them properly. When consider about both sexes, all income levels, racial and ethnic groups, they are at a risk of getting dietary excess or deficiencies. Dietary excesses happen because of high intake of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. All of these compounds contain in processed foods such as snacks, short eats, soft drinks and etc. Most of the adolescents don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. The reason is poor dietary habits. There are some factors that are affecting to their poor eating habits. They are the availability, low-cost, lack of knowledge regarding appropriate nutrition and health impact of poor nutrition, poor parents’ role, lack of food preparation skills, increase the incidence of eating disorders such as fear of weight gain, interest of building muscles and influence of media and advertisements.

Poor eating habits cause various conditions such as overweight and obesity, anemic conditions and a lot of non-communicable diseases. In the adolescent stage the foundation for most of non-communicable diseases are created because it is a critical period of the growth. An important thing is that increasing the rate of obesity and obesity related health risks, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There is a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes among adolescents that is linked with overweight and obesity. Poor diet is also a reason for most of the deficiency diseases. Having inadequate iron intake results iron deficiency anemia. This condition will be a huge risk in their pregnancy. The reasons to have iron deficiency anemia are inadequate intake of iron rich foods and vegetarianism. They should have iron rich foods or supplements. “The balance between long-term energy intake versus energy expenditure contributes to the likelihood of being overweight or obese. Therefore, plant-based food groups that are inherently high in fiber and low in fat are traditionally recommended to prevent obesity” is stated by Matthews L.(2011).

Other than diet influences in adolescent nutrition their physical activity level also affects. Physical activities are a good indicator of adolescent nutrition because physical activities are essential for a healthy life as well as it is particularly beneficial for social interactions and wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence also. It can reduce most of non-communicable disease risk such as overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and etc. The important thing is that physical activities can reduce the excess fat in the body because the energy regulated when doing physical activities is from fats. So, deposition of excess fat is prevented. As well it helps to build muscles also. There is a high impact of physical activity during puberty as it help to increase the bone mass, which is a long lasting effect on bone health. It is recommended to do at least 30 minute per day at least for five days per week. According to researches there is a decline of physical activities of adolescent girls compared to boys from 11 years of age.

Another special condition that affects with adolescent nutrition is eating disorders. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect someone’s physically, psychologically and socially. Examples for eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorders. Special thing is that eating disorders are more common among adolescent girls. Anorexia nervosa means keeping body weight low by refusing meals to maintain their body shape. Bulimia nervosa means having large quantities of meals. Having an eating disorder may impair physical health, psychological functions and can cause death as well.

According to the facts that mentioned above, there should be a better consideration for adolescent nutrition for the well-being of the society. So, there should be interventions planned to address adolescent nutrition including giving nutrition knowledge, Adolescents are more attentive in catching information when it is in an interactive way. So, there should be demonstrations about healthy foods and their nutrient availability. As well, they should aware about the risk when not having a good nutrition during their valuable life stage. So, then their nutritional status will be improved.

References

Story M, 2005/Nutritional needs of Adolescents [online]/ Available at< www.epi.umn.edu> /Accessed on 16th June 2016

Califonia Nutrition Department of public health/2012/ Adolescent nutrition [online]/ Available at www.cdph.ca.gov/ Accessed on 16th June 2016

Rees JM, 1999/Improving nutritional health of adolescents [online]/ Available at https://www.adolescenthealth.org /Accessed on 16th June 2016