Nutritional Problems in Adolescents
The incidence of obesity among six- to eleven-year-olds in the US has more than doubled in the past 20 years (USDHHS, 2004). As reported by the Office of the Surgeon General (USDHHS, 2001), most young people are not following recommendations set forth in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For example, 67% of youths aged 6-19 exceed dietary guidelines for fat intake and 72% exceed recommendations for saturated fat intake.
Most nutritional problems in adolescents are related to the consumption of too much “junk food,” or food with limited or no nutritional value. Most junk food is characterized by high levels of fats, particularly saturated fats, and refined sugar. The portion sizes of junk food also typically are very large. In addition, most adolescents eat very few fruits and vegetables per day or chose items, such as iceberg lettuce, with low nutritional values.
The eating habits of today’s adolescents will lead to future health care problems. Obesity is related to a number of health problems, including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer (NHLBI, 2004). Osteoporosis also is a growing problem, even among adolescents. Poor nutrition and insufficient exercise both contribute to low bone density among teenagers.
- Aim for a Healthy Weight. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH.
- US Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). The Surgeon General's call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General.
- Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. CDC.
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This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.