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Chapter: 11th Home Science : Chapter 6 : Family Meal Management

Nutritional Requirements During Adolescence

Adolescents is the period between child-hood and adulthood.



Adolescents is the period between child-hood and adulthood. It is a period of rapid growth after infancy and it reaches its peak between 11th to 14th years for girls and 13th to 16th years for boys. Adolescence require more food for the following reasons:

a. this period (teenage) is spread almost over a decade,


b. it is characterized by rapid increase in height and weight, hormonal changes, sexual maturation and wide swings in emotion,


c. development of critical bone mass is essential during this period as this forms the ground for maintain-ing mineral integrity of the bone in later life,


d. the pattern and proportion of var-ious body components like body water, muscle mass, bone and fat increase during the entire child-hood and adolescence to reach adult values by about 18 years.


Adolescent girls are at greater physiological stress than boys because of menstruation. Their nutritional needs are of particular importance as they have to prepare for motherhood.


Nutritional Needs of Adolescents


Good nutrition is critical during the teen-age years to ensure healthy growth and development. A healthy diet must meet the changing nutritional needs of a grow-ing teenager.




Calorie needs is influenced by activ-ity level, basal metabolic rate, increased requirements to support pubertal growth, development and energy expenditure. The energy requirements for boys are more than that of girls.




Protein needs of adolescents are influ-enced by the amount of protein required for maintenance of existing lean body mass and accrual of additional lean body mass during the adolescent growth spurt. When protein intakes are consistently inadequate, reductions in linear growth, delays in sexual maturation and reduced accumulation of lean body mass may be seen.


Fat and Essential Fatty Acids


The human body requires dietary fat and essential fatty acids for normal growth and development. The intakes of total fat and saturated fat should not exceed RDA.




Calcium needs during adolescence are greater than they are in either childhood or adulthood because of the dramatic increase in skeletal growth. Milk provides the greatest amount of calcium in the diets of adolescents.Ragi, green leafy vegeta-bles, milk and milk products are excellent sources of calcium.




Iron is vital for transporting oxygen in the bloodstream and for preventing anaemia. For both male and female adolescents, the need for iron increases with rapid growth and the expansion of blood volume and muscle mass. The onset of menstruation imposes additional iron needs for girls.




Zinc is important in adolescence because of its role in growth and sexual matura-tion. Males who are zinc deficient expe-rience growth failure and delayed sexual development.




Vitamin A is important for normal vision and plays a vital role in reproduction, growth, and immune function. The most obvious symptom of inadequate vitamin A consumption is vision impairment, espe-cially night blindness. The low intake of fruits, vegetables and milk and dairy prod-ucts by adolescents contributes to their less than optimal intake of vitamin A.


Vitamin E is well known for its anti-oxidant properties, which become increas-ingly important as body mass expands dur-ing adolescence. Fortified breakfast cereals and nuts are good sources of vitamin E. Vitamin C is involved in the synthesis of collagen and other connective tissues




Dietary fibre is important for normal bowel function, and plays a role in the prevention of chronic diseases, such as certain cancers, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabe-tes mellitus and reduces the risk of obe-sity. Increased intake of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains increases the fibre intake. Adolescents who skip breakfast or do not routinely consume whole grain cereals are at high risk for having an inadequate con-sumption of fibre.


Dietary Guidelines for Adolescents


Diet in adolescents is very significant because it influences the nutritional status later in life.


– Adequate well balanced nutritious food should be taken to prevent obesity or under nutrition.


– An adolescent girl should take enough calcium rich foods in her diet to increase bone density and delay the onset of osteoporosis.


–  Should not miss breakfast.


–  Junk food should be avoided.


– Avoid empty calorie foods such as carbonated beverages.


– Iron rich foods may be included in the diet to prevent anaemia.


– Calorie and protein rich foods should be taken to support the growth spurt.


– Include fruits and vegetables in the diet to meet the vitamin, mineral and fibre requirement.


– Home based diets are best for chil-dren’s growth.


– Adolescents need to be encouraged to do physical activity particularly outdoor games. Physical activity regulates appetite.


Nutrition Related Problems


·        Acne Vulgaris


·        Anaemia


·        Obesity


·        Eating Disorders


a.        Anorexia Nervosa


b.        Bulimia Nervosa


c.         Binge Eating Disorder


·        Predisposition to Osteoporosis


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11th Home Science : Chapter 6 : Family Meal Management : Nutritional Requirements During Adolescence |

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