It is very beneficial for adolescents to adopt healthful customs at an early age. When a balanced diet and exercise are regularly incorporated, healthy body weight can naturally be maintained.
During this stage, weight easily fluctuates as a result of the many hormonal changes that take place. The food that children consume and the activities they engage in can help to level hormonal effects, thereby regulating overall weight and mood. Gaining healthy weight helps during the growing stages for proper maturation and aids in decreasing the risk of becoming obese or overweight during adulthood.
Physical activities and eating habits can lead to or away from several potential risks. This is a stage of life concerning ages 11-21, where a child transforms into adulthood. Puberty onsets during early adolescence and the biological changes involve sexual maturation, growth of the skeletal mass, increase in height and weight, and fluctuations in body composition. Puberty varies significantly between individuals when it comes to duration, speed, and age. Furthermore, variations in attaining sexual maturity affect the nutritional requirements of adolescents. Many adolescents are following diets that are unwholesome and do not adhere to the U.S. healthy dietary guidelines.
Vast amounts of movement, nutrients, and rest are required to support the substantial growth and developments each youth experiences. Thus, obtaining energy in healthy ways is critical to promote the necessary processes occurring at a high rate. This is achieved through the means of consuming correct nutritional content and expending proper amounts of energy throughout the day.
Chances of acquiring diseases are highly reduced when a balanced and healthy diet is made essential. This boosts the immune system throughout childhood and even during later life stages. Most importantly, this ensures that adolescents do not suffer from deficiencies such as vitamin B and iron, interrupting the progress of the body and mind. The nutrients that are often likely to be missing from adolescents consuming a vegan diet are; iron, calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Vitamin B6 is a necessary micronutrient for carbohydrate metabolism, amino-acid metabolism, heme synthesis, and immune function, all of which are the foundation of proteins aiding in health into adulthood.
- Vitamin B6 for girls that are aged 14 to 18 years is 1.2 mg/day (25).
- Vitamin B12 is especially essential to balance the homocysteine levels.
- Vitamin B12 for boys and girls that are aged 9 to 13 years is 1.8 μg/day
Furthermore, adolescents have increased requirements for iron due to rapid bodily growth. The RDA of iron is 15 mg/day for adolescent girls and 11 mg/day for adolescent boys.
On average, adolescent nutritional intake is low in fiber and high in sodium, saturated fats, and added sugars. When deprived of adequate nutrition, compacted with aspects like lifestyle routine or not obtaining enough sleep, there is a world of confusion that adolescents endure. According to Erick Erikson’s Stage of Development life, there are eight stages. Adolescence particularly involves identity vs. confusion, the sense of complication of life matters, and the integration of sensory logical and aesthetic discernment. During this life stage, adolescents gain increased awareness concerning their body image as well as the differences of others, especially when it comes to their identity.
Two social factors that affect the food choices and nutritional status of adolescence involve behavioral and environmental influences. Behavioral influences involve food preferences, food-related skills, self-efficacy, and eating practices. Environmental influences involve culture, cultural groups, culture peers, home environments, parenting practices, family dietary practices, influences and peer norms, fads and food trends, school meals, and fast foods. Many adolescents are consuming poor, unhealthy foods that can affect the food choices of others having a domino effect.
Moreover, adolescents are searching for meaning and organization in their life, charting new territory, and enduring profound physical and mental changes. During this time, each individual begins forming their own life while exploring objectives, values, and ideologies. Forming these stabilizing conscious patterns early on is a gift to each individual and their future.