Nutrition for Teenagers

Teenagers and nutrition

Teenage, the period of life between puberty and adulthood (from 12 to 18 years of age) also defined as “adolescence”.

It is a very delicate age, as it is characterized by important physiological changes: accelerated statural growth, maturation of body proportions, etc. In this phase, the organism is experiencing particularly rapid growth, and therefore has very high energy and nutrient needs, especially with regard to proteins, iron, calcium and vitamins A, C and D.

Special attention must be paid to adolescent girls, who need to be well fed both for the typical development of this stage of life and for the future stress of pregnancy. For example, in adolescents the iron and calcium requirements increase rapidly up to the adult levels: insufficient coverage of them entails the risk of the appearance of iron deficiency anemias and a reduced mineralization of the skeleton, such as to make it early and more severe osteoporosis of the mature age.

However, it is precisely in this age that young people often, due to the desire to affirm their nascent personality or to lose weight excessively or to conform to inadequate food or aesthetic “fashions”, adopt disordered and unbalanced eating patterns, often so restricted or so monotonous as to cause the lack of essential nutrients.

It is no coincidence, in fact, that in most of the European and North American countries it is precisely teenagers who find the lowest levels of consumption for calcium and iron among all age groups, with all the risks already illustrated above. It is therefore very appropriate that specific nutritional surveillance is carried out by all on these points.

In general, the consumption of milk and yogurt, preferably partially skimmed, a frequent supply of vegetables and fruit, fish, lean meats, legumes and the habitual performance of good physical activity are highly recommended. Even in this age group, excessive use of typical “American Style” fast-food foods should not be recommended.

In Conclusion – How to behave:

  • Avoid adopting - beyond any control - particularly unbalanced and monotonous food patterns, just because they are "fashionable".
  • Pay particular attention, especially if you are a girl, to cover your increased needs in iron and calcium: follow some trends in vogue among young people that lead to excluding from the diet foods such as meat and fish (excellent sources of iron) and milk and derivatives (excellent sources of calcium) makes this coverage and that of vitamin B12 very difficult and has no scientific justification.

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14 Responses

  1. I speak from personal experience with my teenage children who no longer consume an afternoon snack

    1. Same problem here with me but in my case my two children do not seem to be interested in breakfast and instead eat snacks at less suitable times

      1. One thing that we really need to be able to control as parents is the fact that sometimes our children consume snacks just before a meal such as lunch or dinner and in doing so they no longer eat regularly even these main meals.

        1. I also worry about the fact that my daughter does very little sport (in the past she regularly went to do martial arts) now she does nothing pf this kind and in her spare time after school she is always either sitting on the sofa or lying in bed.

          1. My god …. it seems the exact explanation of my daughter’s behavior who does exactly the same. Yet until a year ago she played volleyball and also did skating.

            1. We solved our daughter sedentary issue by “haggling” two hours of swimming pool per week for a couple of extra hours of allowance with the use of her mobile phone.

              1. That’s something we managed to do in the past but now is getting incredibly difficult to reason with our two daughters.

  2. Online gamers for boys or at least I speak for our son that seem to follow trends he sees on Youtube videos.

      1. Our children no longer watch television, they are always there with their mobile phone or computer.

        1. The culprit is in large part the memes that run on the web and social media, kids seem to follow that a lot.

          1. During adolescence, kids start eating outside the home environment and this often results in the consumption of cheap fast-food or anyway deregulates all the good rules “imposed” by parents when eating at home.

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