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National Youth Week

By 30/04/2012 No Comments

Teen health and nutrition benefits to all areas of life Teenage development is so important and your job as a parent or carer to offer nutritionally sound meals and snacks does not stop during these years. With so many counterproductive messages that our teenagers receive regarding their health in the form of junk food commercials, non-active lifestyle choices and social pressures, it is understandable that the task may seem daunting.  But nothing is more important to the health and longevity of your children than maintaining a healthy balanced diet combined with an active lifestyle.  This is imperative to brain development, growth stimulation and healthy hormonal changes that both male and female teenagers will go through during their adolescent years[1].

Before we look at the nutritional tips that you can apply, let us take a look at some lifestyle issues that may impact your teenagers. Colourful, loud advertisements constantly tout that is it alright to consume high fat, high sugar foods in the form of both main meals and snacks[2].  Even drinks, such as sodas and energy drinks[3], are something that should be moderated during teenage years.  Many of these products are derived from chemicals and preservatives that were never even meant to be a part of the human diet. More and more research is brining to light the fact that the diet of our teens is affecting their ability to perform daily tasks, brain function, and also affecting their moods and mental health.  Depression, self-loathing and anti-social behaviour can be affected or even be a result of the foods that our children have consumed in their early and teenage years.  Of course, there are circumstances that also make it hard for teens to be able to have a healthy diet, but if it possible, educating them on the benefits of a balanced, nutritional lifestyle will only see them improve physically and mentally[4].  Let’s look at something for the girls and then something for the boys.

Our teen girls are bombarded on a daily basis with the message that ‘skinny’ is the only way to be popular.  By educating them that a healthy diet will not only provide them with a healthy weight, it will also improve their ability to perform daily tasks at school and even within social activities. Research shows that teenage females who are consuming the RDI of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, have a higher success rates in sports, academics and general morale and well being.  So try and ingrain your girls with the mentality that ‘strong and healthy’ is the new ‘skinny’[5].

Now a little tip for the teen boys – get out there and get active!! Moderate the amount of junk food in your boys’ diet as the high levels of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats can reduce the motivation to participate in sporting activities, outdoor adventures and may increase the risk of teen obesity.  And encourage, where possible, a healthy balance between the amount of time spent on a computer or in front of the television with daily exercise at a moderate to high level for growing teenage males. It may be difficult to take up the battle against the fast food giants and computer game moguls that influence your child’s decision to be sedentary from a young age, but your teenage son’s health is well worth it[6].

In conclusion, as much as various aspects of society affect your teenager’s decisions, consider educating them, rather than forcing upon them, the importance of meals that have a high energy level and nutritional value, brought about from natural sources[7].  These food choices will have a dramatic affect on their early adult life and may very well effect how ling your teenager lives and the chronic health diseases that they may or may not contract in the future.

Bibliography

Hill, A.J. (2002). Nutrition and behaviour group symposium on ‘Evolving attitudes to food and nutrition’. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 61(2), pp. 259-266.

Strasburger, V.C., Jordan, A.B., Donnerstein. (2010). Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Paediatrics, 125(4), pp. 756-767.

Reissig, C.J., Strain, E.C., Griffiths, R.R. (2008). Caffeinated energy drinks – A growing problem. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 99(1-3), pp. 1-10.

DiLeone, R.J. (2011). Neorusicence gets nutrition. Nature Neuroscience, 14(1), pp. 271-272.

Schmidt, R.L. (2010). Impact of nutrition education on dietary habits of female high school students. Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. Paper 369. Retrieved from http://commons.emich.edu/theses/369 on 15th April, 2011.

Wright, V.R., Prive, J., Bianchi, S.M., Hunt, B.R. (2009). The time use of teenagers. Social Science Research, 38(4), pp. 792-809.

Tse, M.M.Y., Yuen, D.T.W. (2009). Effects of providing a nutrition education program for teenagers: Dietary and physical activity patterns. Nursing and Health Sciences, 11(2), pp. 160-165.

[1] Hill, A.J. (2002). Nutrition and behaviour group symposium on ‘Evolving attitudes to food and nutrition’. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 61(2), pp. 259-266.

[2] Strasburger, V.C., Jordan, A.B., Donnerstein. (2010). Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Paediatrics, 125(4), pp. 756-767.

[3] Reissig, C.J., Strain, E.C., Griffiths, R.R. (2008). Caffeinated energy drinks – A growing problem. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 99(1-3), pp. 1-10.

[4] DiLeone, R.J. (2011). Neorusicence gets nutrition. Nature Neuroscience, 14(1), pp. 271-272.

[5] Schmidt, R.L. (2010). Impact of nutrition education on dietary habits of female high school students. Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. Paper 369. Retrieved from http://commons.emich.edu/theses/369 on 15th April, 2011.

[6] Wright, V.R., Prive, J., Bianchi, S.M., Hunt, B.R. (2009). The time use of teenagers. Social Science Research, 38(4), pp. 792-809.

[7] Tse, M.M.Y., Yuen, D.T.W. (2009). Effects of providing a nutrition education program for teenagers: Dietary and physical activity patterns. Nursing and Health Sciences, 11(2), pp. 160-165.