Nutrition During Adolescence
The transition from childhood to adulthood is called adolescence. This period (13-18 years) is characterized by rapid growth and development at all levels i.e., physical, physiological, psychological and social as described below.
The second and final growth spurt occurs during this period. The process of physical development from a child to an adult is called puberty. The growth spurt occurs in girls at approximately 11-14 years and in boys 13-16 years. Growth in girls in terms of height and weight is maximum prior to menarche. It is very rare that girls gain height after menarche, which is hardly 2-3 cm. In boys growth continues till late teens. They tend to gain weight at a faster rate and by 18-20 years, they have achieved their full height.
PHYSICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CHANGES
Body composition changes during the period of maturation. The changes occur due to hormonal influence which regulate the development of sex characteristics.
The skeletal growth continues for a longer period of time for boys than girls. Usually the skeleton reaches its full maturity by 17 years for girls and by 20 years for boys. As mineralization increases the water content decreases.
Girls tend to deposit more fat whereas boys add more muscle mass. The result of pubertal changes is that boys have more lean body mass, skeletal weight and less adipose tissue as a ratio of total body mass. This difference in body composition for boys and girls is reflected in their nutrient requirements.
The growth spurt is accompanied by sexual maturity. In girls there is development of breasts, auxiliary and pubic hair and menarche. In boys the pubertal changes include deepening of voice, broadening of shoulders, development of auxiliary and pubic hair, growth of penis and testicles.
Psycho social changes
As this period is a transition to adulthood, they try to develop self identity. The desire to be accepted in their peer group changes their food habits, dressing and group conduct. This in turn brings psychological, emotional and social stress.