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:
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