Nutrition for Adolescent Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2169 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Health - Nutrition

Nutrition, Health and Adolescence

There are one billion adolescents world-wide, and how effectively they cope with the perils of growing up will be a crucial element in whether humanity can surmount the challenge of the next Century." UNICEF. (Nutrition in adolescence - Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector.)

The nutritional requirements for adolescents and the concern that this has created in society, has prompted numerous studies and research articles on the topic. One of the many reason for the focus on nutrition and the adolescent is the increasing danger of obesity in contemporary society. America has reached what some critics claim to be a critical stage with obesity and obesity related health issues - especially with regards to the youth. Another reason for the focus on nutritional requirements is that it is this age group that is most affected by the quality of modern foodstuffs and mass produced products in society.

This paper will present on overview of nutrition and health concerns for adolescents and attempt to develop a proposal which may improve nutritional health in this age group.

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TOPIC: Term Paper on Nutrition for Adolescent Assignment

The period known as adolescence is defined by the World Health Organization as the developmental period between ten and nineteen years of age. (Nutrition in adolescence -Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector) This is described as a period of gradual transition from childhood to adulthood which is, "...characterized by important psychological and social changes, not only physiological change." (Nutrition in adolescence -Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector) Most importantly it is a period of continuous and rapid physical growth in the individual with as much as 45% of skeletal growth taking place and 15 to 25% of adult height is achieved during this period. (Nutrition in adolescence -Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector) Approximately thirty-five percent of bone mass is also accumulated during adolescence. Therefore it is during this period of intense growth that nutritional requirements and correct nutrition are of such importance. Adolescence is seen as an opportunity to lay the foundations for a healthy productive and reproductive life, and " prevent the onset of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life, while addressing adolescence-specific nutrition issues and possibly also correcting some nutritional problems originating in the past." (Nutrition in adolescence -Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector.)

Adolescence is also a period that is usually seen as being distinct in many respects to other developmental phases. "There is a growing recognition among clinicians and public health workers alike that the approaches used to prevent and respond to health problems in adults need to be tailored (to a greater or lesser extent) if they are to meet the special needs of adolescents." (WHO discussion papers on adolescence) Therefore there are specific areas of concern that relate to this age group with regard to nutrition and health. There is a concern from many authorities on the subject that often nutritional aspects are neglected during adolescence and that more specific strategies should be implemented during this period.

Some of the main health concerns related to nutrition are the following:

Micronutrient deficiencies (iron deficiency and anaemia)

Malnutrition and stunting

Obesity and other nutrition-related chronic diseases

Adolescents eating patterns and lifestyles

Nutrition in relation to early pregnancy


The way in which the nutrition and the health status of the adolescent are measured is in terms of weight-for-height expressed as Body Mass Index (BMI). The data available reveals that "...the average BMI among 11- to 18-year-olds is considerably lower in the developing world than in industrialized countries. " (Cheetham N. And Klindera K.) During this period there is an increased need for micronutrients such as iron. The p[physical changes occurring in both genders places emphasize on increased nutritional requirements.

One of the important health problems that can be experienced due to insufficient nutrition during adolescence is anemia. "Anemia, whether or not the primary cause is iron deficiency, is generally recognized as the main nutritional problem in adolescents. "(Nutrition in adolescence - Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector.) The importance of nutrition as a factor in normal development can be seen in the high rate of this disorder in the developing world, compared to the developed world, where there is in generally better nutrition available. "About 27% of adolescents are estimated to be anemic in developing countries, compared to 6% in developed countries." (Cheetham N. And Klindera K.) Anemia is seen as a critical health problem as it affects growth as well as energy levels in the young person. It is a particularly problematic for young girls during pregnancy and is associated with premature birth, low birth weight, and perinatal and maternal mortality. (Cheetham N. And Klindera K.)

Another aspect directly related to nutrition is stunting. This is often a result of under-nutrition during childhood. Again, this has many health ramifications for the adolescent, especially among girls where a small birth canal can lead to obstructed labor during childbirth. In general under-nutrition is a serious issue that impacts dramatically of the health of growing adolescents. It can affect pregnancy outcomes as well as have a negative effect on school achievement.

Eating disorders are also related to this period of development in terms of the increased needs for nutrients and various social and psychological aspects that affect healthy nutrition. For example, problems of self - image and self -esteem, especially in young women, can lead to various eating and nutritional related disorders. The connection between adolescent development and correct nutrition is well documented in the literature.

The intensity of physical growth and development also accounts for the vulnerability of any adolescent to long-term consequences if they experience semi-starvation. All organisms are subject to the greatest harm from food deprivation at periods when they are synthesizing tissue; they need nutrients to build into tissues and food energy to fuel the process. Human teenagers are no exception to this basic biological rule.

Rees J.M.)

Serious disease such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia can affect especially teenage girls. Eating disorders can also result in a wide range of deficiencies in the intake of iron and calcium. (Nutrition in adolescence - Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector.)

On the other hand an excess of food can also lead to nutritional problems. This refers to the quality and type of nutrition and to the effect of nutritional imbalances. Obesity is also an issue associated with this age group and is a growing problem in the United States. It is increasing at a rate that exceeds most other health dangers. Obesity is.".. poised to become the nations leading health problem and No. 1 killer" and is "already the cause of 400,000 deaths a year...or 45 per hour..." (Hearne. S. et al., 2004)

The costs of obesity and obesity related illness are reaching unsustainable levels for both the individual and government.

Obesity can lead to various chronic and serious diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Furthermore, it can result in "abnormal glucose metabolism, hepatic gastrointestinal disturbances, sleep apnoea (in children) and orthopedic complications." (Nutrition in adolescence -Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector.)

Obesity in adolescence may have serious health and psychosocial consequences. For some, the greatest hazards of adolescent obesity are the social and psychological difficulties that also may persist into the adult years. An important consequence of poor nutrition and eating habits in adolescence is that it can lead to negative effects later in life."... undernutrition delays or suppresses activity of the reproductive axis in adolescents or adult women..." (Nutrition in adolescence - Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector.)

Other health issues related to nutrition in adolescence includes Vitamin A deficiency. Iodine deficiency disorders, which are associated with mental disorders, can also be a factor resulting from a poor nutritional environment in adolescence. A lack of calcium has been shown to result in bone disease and this particularly associated wit adolescence. (Nutrition in adolescence - Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector.)


One of the issues related to modern nutrition in adolescence in developed countries like the United States is tooth decay. This fact is an indication that a serious problem exists in the type of nutrition that many adolescents experience in modern society. The use of sugar substitutes in foodstuffs is a major contributing factor in this regard. (Nutrition in adolescence - Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector.)

Many adolescents have developed poor nutritional eating habits. A National Adolescent School Health Survey observed that,"...adolescents who obtained breakfast and lunch foods from sources other than home or school were more likely to consume high-fat, low nutrientdense snacks..." (Nutrition in adolescence - Issues and Challenges for the Health Sector.)

The promotion of foods of poor nutritional value is related largely to the media and corporate sales campaigns, as well as social norms.

Adolescents are greatly influenced in their eating habits by peers, mass media, social and cultural norms, and lack of nutrition knowledge, while the influence of the family tends to decline... Adolescence is a time… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Nutrition for Adolescent" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Nutrition for Adolescent.  (2006, August 28).  Retrieved September 17, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Nutrition for Adolescent."  28 August 2006.  Web.  17 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Nutrition for Adolescent."  August 28, 2006.  Accessed September 17, 2021.