Adolescent Male Nutrition
Adolescent boys are notorious for their appetites. Puberty, hormones, sport participation, and peer influence all contribute to the drive for increased food consumption. During the teen years, many kids start eating more food away from home, and consume more and more of their meals and snacks with peers.
Adolescence is an extremely important time of growth, and risk for malnutrition is high. Reports from the United States indicate that the highest prevalence of nutritional deficiencies may occur during adolescence. Healthful foods often are replaced with junk foods, and availability of healthful options may become a concern. Ensuring that a growing boy meets his needs is essential in promoting optimal growth.
Improper nutrition may lead to:
- Sexual maturation delays
- Shorter final adult height
The following nutrition recommendations may help.
Eat a variety of foods
If the foundation of the diet is healthful and includes whole, nutritious foods, this leaves little room for sweets, treats, or even a little junk food. Make sure you do not have a unlimited rotation of pizza, burgers, and chips, and do not offer these foods too often. Teens should choose from a variety of produce, meats, dairy products, and whole grains to provide vitamin and mineral crossover.
Balance food with physical activity
Everyone should get physical activity daily, and teens are no exception. Balancing computer, school, and homework time with physical activity that is enjoyable and possibly social is important in promoting best health, weight, and growth.
A physician or pediatrician should track adolescent growth to make sure that normal periods of weight gain are followed with increases in height. This helps to assure that growth is consistent and appropriate for the teen.
Consume plenty of grain products, vegetables, and fruits
Foods that are plant based and unprocessed provide the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water that a growing boy needs the most. Stock produce and whole-grain products, and have them ready to eat and in the front line of view to help assure that they are chosen first.
Choose a diet that is low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
Reducing the amount of processed foods, foods with saturated fats and trans fats, and junk food at home will help to increase the appeal of healthful food choices.
Limit sugar and salt
People are hardwired to prefer foods that are sweet and salty, and teens are no exception. This wiring is not helpful in making the most healthful food choices. Limit availability of these foods. Maintain open discussions about limiting dietary salt and sugar when socializing with friends.
Get enough calcium and iron
The adolescent’s diet needs enough calcium and iron to meet the growing body’s requirements. Adolescent diets often are lacking in calcium and iron. Choose low-fat dairy products, lean meats, beans, cereals, nuts, and fish.
Do not use supplements
Adolescents contribute heavily to the neutraceutical, vitamin, and supplement market. A diet that is well balanced requires no supplementation. If a teen is not eating a diverse, well-rounded diet, ask your health care professional about use of a multivitamin.
How parents should help
Parents should model the behaviors that teens should follow for life. By adolescence, most people have a pretty well-established diet, including what, when, how, and where they eat. Leading by example is the strongest way a parent or others can promote a healthful diet.
Keep Kids Healthy. Nutrition. Available at: http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/adolescent/adolescentnutrition.html. Accessed January 20, 2010.
Schwab J. Adolescent nutrition. Available at: http://pedclerk.bsd.uchicago.edu/adolescentNutrition.html. Accessed January 20, 2010.
Review Date 1/10