Adolescent Eating Habits

Many teenagers fall into unhealthy eating habits for a variety of reasons; stress, the desire to lose weight, peer pressure etc. These unhealthy eating habits, may not cause damage immediately (although they sometimes do) but they are followed by a host of health issues. Sound nutritious habits play a role in the prevention of common chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancers, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Investigating and understanding adolescent eating habits is necessary to preventing diet-related diseases later in the future.

This paper discusses characteristic adolescent eating habits; skipping meals, fast food consumption, frequent snacking, and other dieting practices of adolescents. The nutritional requirements for adolescents are also discussed. Unhealthy Dietary Habits Teens engage in dieting practices that maybe less than beneficial, including eating very little, cutting out whole groups of foods (like grain products), fasting, and skipping meals. These practices can leave out important foods that are vital for growth to occur. Other weight-loss strategies such as self-induced vomiting, smoking, and diet pills or laxatives can lead to health issues.

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Unhealthy dieting can actually cause weight gain since it often leads to a cycle of eating very little, then binge eating. Adolescents may miss meals because of unbalanced schedules. Breakfast and lunch are the meals most often missed, school, and social activities may cause the skipping of evening meals. 12 to 50 % of adolescents miss breakfast; and girls are more likely to do so than are boys (35 and25 % respectively). More than one-half of the adolescents participating in the National Adolescent School Health Survey reported that they ate breakfast less than twice per week.

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Reasons for missing breakfast include rushing off o early school classes or activities, and poor appetite first thing in the morning. Missing breakfast can negatively affect school performance and contribute to a negative overall diet [ (Americans, 2010) ]. Hunger and food insecurity (i. e. , disrupted eating patterns because of financial strains) might increase the risk for lower dietary quality and under nutrition. In turn, under nutrition can negatively affect overall health, cognitive development, and school performance. Benefits of Healthful Eating Eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory), and mood.

Healthy eating helps prevent high cholesterol and high blood pressure and reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Healthy eating helps reduce the risk of obesity, dental caries, iron deficiency, and osteoporosis Most U. S. youth do not meet the recommendations for eating 2? cups to 6? cups of fruits and vegetables each day. Teenagers in the U. S. A tend not to eat the minimum recommended amounts of whole grains (2–3 ounces each day). Teenagers tend not to eat more than the recommended maximum daily intake of sodium (1,500–2,300 mg each day) (CDC, 1998).

Empty calories contribute to 40% of daily calories for children and adolescents aged 2–18 years, affecting the quality of their diets. About half of these empty calories come from the following sources: soft-drinks, fruit drinks, pizza, grain desserts, dairy desserts, and whole milk. Adolescents drink more full-calorie soft-drinks per day than milk. Males aged 12–19 years drink roughly 22 ounces of full-calorie soft-drinks per day, more than twice the intake of milk (10 ounces), and females drink roughly 14 ounces of soft-drinks and only 6 ounces of milk (Kushi LH, 2006).

Eating Disorders Adolescents are especially susceptible to eating disorders because of the development of their self-image around this time of their lives. Bulimia, anorexia and binge eating are all eating disorders that teenagers suffer from. Results of Anorexia nervosa can prove to be fatal; as the body is starved so are the muscles. The heart, being a muscle, can consequently begin to weaken, and heart failure will very likely become a reality. The low levels of sodium, zinc, potassium and calcium, associated with anorexia can cause unusual heart rhythms.

Sudden death caused by electrolyte and mineral disorder may happen. The blood bone marrow is also interrupted. Anemia is related with the amount of weight lost and the decreased capability to fight pathogens and infections [ (CDC) ]. Obtaining the accurate figures, in terms of the prevalence and other facts about eating disorders is difficult. It is not mandatory for Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders (ANRED) to report eating disorders; this, the secretiveness, and denial of people with eating disorders makes it difficult to obtain an accurate idea of the prevalence of eating disorders in the U. S. A. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), in 2005, 10,000,000 Americans had an eating disorder. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) reports 7,000,000 women and 1,000,000 men are affected by eating disorders in America. 3. 6% and 12. 9% of the American population is estimated to suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their lives, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) [ (Americans, 2010) ]. Junk Food

The percentage of adolescents snacking on any given day increased from 61% in 1977-1978 to 83% in 2005-2006; the percentage of adolescents who had three or more snacks in a day rise more than twofold, from 9 % to 23% during the same time period. The rise in rates of overweight and obesity among children and adults of late has led researchers to evaluate the relationship between different eating patterns and weight status. A habit that has received significant attention is that of eating more frequently, particularly in the form of snacking.

Although some research has shown that eating habits, including snacking, may help people meet their nutrient requirements, other research indicates that snacking lowers the nutrient density (the amount of nutrients per calorie) of the total diet (Forshee RA, 2006) (Brown, 2011). Snacking more times per day was related to higher intakes of calories. Many of the foods that made the largest contributions to adolescents’ intakes (My Pyramid) at snacks were also high in solid fats, added sugars, or both.

The effects of frequent consumption of junk food, such as fast food, soft-drinks, potato crisps and other snacks, include the increased risk of : Clogged arteries- his occurs when fats and cholesterol become oxidized and build up inside the blood vessels, increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke. * Heart disease. * Diabetes later in life. * Obesity, immediately or later in life. * Hypertension. * Cancers related to excess fat and sugar consumption. (Brown, 2011) Many teens eat at fast food restaurants often, taking in extra calories from added sugar and fat. One fast food meal of a sandwich, fries, and sweetened soft-drink can have more fat, calories, and sugar than one should eat in an entire day.

The best approach is to limit the amount of fast food consumed. Choosing a grilled chicken sandwich or a plain, small burger instead of a large fried burger, ordering garden or grilled chicken salads with light or reduced-calorie dressings, choosing water, fat-free, or low-fat milk instead of sweetened sweet-drinks can go a long way towards minimizing fat, sugar and calorie intake when eating out. At times, people forget what they drinking and focus only on what they are eating. Soft-drinks and other sugar filled drinks have replaced water and milk as the drinks of choice for teens.

These drinks are more like desserts because they are high in calories and added sugar. In fact, soft-drinks and sugar-filled drinks may contribute to weight problems in kids and teens. Saturated fat and trans fat, found in many types of fast food including fries, and fried chicken, contribute to high cholesterol levels. High cholesterol increases the risk of blocked arteries. The resulting reduced blood flow to the heart and brain, increases risks for heart attack or stroke. Trans fat, also found in many baked goods such as cookies, snack cakes and crackers, should be avoided to reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.

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Adolescent Eating Habits. (2017, Jan 08). Retrieved from

Adolescent Eating Habits

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