Healthy Diet for Teenagers

Obesity is becoming a big problem in the US. Today, it is estimated that 97 million people in the country are facing weight related issues and more than one-fifth of the adults in the US are said to be overweight. Teenagers also face the same problem. According to the American Dietetic Association, there’s a notable 39% increase in the number of obese teenagers in the country. 

Teenagers could put the blame on their parent’s genes, for if the parents are obese there’s an 80% chance that their kids will be too. But obesity is caused by a number of factors and hereditary is just one of them. The present lifestyle and the food they eat play major roles in the fight against obesity. Therefore, proper dieting is always a good approach when it comes to maintaining a healthy mind and body.

Still, teenagers cannot just follow any dietary program. Unlike adults, teenagers have specialized nutritional needs. Adults can achieve good healthy through a diet of certain nutrients, vitamins and minerals since their body have already reached a state where change, and growth are minimal. Teenagers’ bodies, on the other hand, are still at a state of development where specific nutritional needs are necessary.

Among the common health problems in teenagers include iron deficiency especially in adolescent girls that have heavy menstrual periods; obesity which can cause heart disease, and hypertension; tooth decay if teenagers love lots of sugar in their diet; a variety of digestive illnesses like constipation, abdominal discomfort, appendicitis, gallstones due to lack of fiber in their diet; coronary artery disease due to a diet of mostly animal fat; and, high blood pressure which comes from the same high fat diet.

To avoid such health problems and nutritional deficiencies, teenagers need to learn to balance what they eat from the five basic food groups, namely: milk products, meat and eggs, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Proper teen diet includes 2 to 3 servings per day of milk products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. For red meats, poultry, fish and eggs at most 2 servings per day are ideal. Grains, breads, cereals, rice, and pastas are acceptable at 6 to 11 servings per day while 2 to 4 servings of fruits or fruits juices are recommended daily. And finally, eating 3 to 5 servings of vegetables per day would help keep maintain a healthy mind and body.

So in short, a teenager’s diet should generally consist of 20% milk, meat and eggs, and 80% should be fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Moreover, teenagers should avoid too much salt and sugar in their diets and instead focus on eating foods rich in iron. Too much salt can result to unusual water retention in the body and sugar can increase the risk of developing diseases like diabetes. Drinking lots of water is also recommended. Teenagers today need to be careful with what they eat to stay healthy.