THE IMPORTANCE OF HEALTHCARE AND NUTRITION FOR TEENAGERS
Being a teenager or adolescence, is a transition from being a child into a young adult and this is when some habits are formed that can often carry on into adult life. Good habits such as eating healthy and exercising are beneficial, including great performances in school.
Occasionally overlooked are nutritional habits, which are essential, and with high BMI, iron deficiency, energy-dense foods, and high intake of processed, among other risk factors, pose risks for later in the lives for these young adults.
Behavioural, sociodemographic, and environmental factors are connected to different patterns of adolescent nutrition. Behavioural factors include patterns of portion sizes, dieting, eating while watching tv, skipping meals, and beverage intake. Sociodemographic factors include socioeconomic status, sex, location, age, and a degree of urbanization. Environmental factors include maternal education, eating food prepared outside the home, employment and parental diet.
Gender norms are often harmful concerning nutrition and physical activities. Most girls are exposed to a culture of unhealthy weight loss and over dieting, and some believe that exercise is either unfeminine, boring or simply unnecessary. Girls are known to prioritize body image over health, and has been proven that the methods used to attain a certain body image is extremely unhealthy. Media, peers, and parents can help encourage healthier approaches to weight control, healthcare, and nutrition.
Nutritional problems in teenagers
The most common nutritional problems among today’s teenagers are eating disorders, anaemia, and obesity.
This is rampant, especially in adolescents, in most populations, 10% to 30% of it is obese teenagers. Physical activities or being active has an important role in treating obesity. Most obese teenagers have lower physical exercises than children, and most adolescents tend to exercise less vigorously.
Exercising helps in weight loss for obese teenagers and accompanying exercise with clean food will help achieve a healthy body weight and reduce the risks of getting chronic ailments.
Signs of future health problems are present in obese teenagers, especially the inactive ones. The major illnesses are high levels of insulin, high blood pressure, increased hypertension, gall bladder disease, type2 diabetes, high serum cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and even cancer. The importance of improving how teenagers eat and exercise will help decline maturity-onset diseases caused by obesity and inactivity.
Anemia is an iron deficiency disease that is common among teenagers today and unfortunately increasingly seen in adults today. The NHANES II study shows that iron deficiency (7.2% average) is common in teenage girls. This due to an increase in iron needed by the body but lower intakes of food with iron or iron supplements. Iron deficiency is also common due to higher iron fortification of cereals and high use of oral contraceptives, leading to an increase in menstrual blood losses. Iron deficiency is rampant in puberty due to blood volume, lean body mass, and red cell mass increase, increasing the iron need for haemoglobin blood and myoglobin in the muscle. And due to the rapid growth of boys at the teenage stage, anaemia is more likely in teenagers.
Most female athletes risk iron deficiency because of low intake of iron foods and high losses. Anaemia decreases the capacity of exercises, impairs body temperature regulation, lower resistance to infection, and alters behaviours and academic performance.
Teenagers are encouraged to eat iron-fortified bread and cereals, red meats, and iron-rich foods, and when foods are eaten together with vitamin C—the bioavailability of non-heme iron increases.
Iron Food Sources
Meats, poultry, and seafood are richest in heme iron. Fortified grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables contain non-heme iron. In the U.S. many breads, cereals, and infant formulas are fortified with iron.
Heme iron is better absorbed by the body than non-heme iron. Certain factors can improve or inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron. Vitamin C and heme iron taken at the same meal can improve the absorption of non-heme iron. Bran fiber, large amounts of calcium particularly from supplements, and plant substances like phytates and tannins can inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron.
Sources of heme iron:
- Oysters, clams, mussels
- Beef or chicken liver
- Organ meats
- Canned sardines
- Canned light tuna
Sources of non-heme iron:
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Dark chocolate (at least 45%)
- Potato with skin
- Nuts, seeds
- Enriched rice or bread
- Eating disorders problem
Eating disorders are stern enough to disturb physical and mental health amongst teenagers than any other person. Such disorders include; bulimia, self-induced vomiting, anorexia nervosa, bulimarexia, and laxative abuse, described as psychological disorders with nutritional complications. They are more common among females than males. Eating disorders impair growth, development, and mental health. They’re connected with affective disorders, particularly depression.
Eating disorders may lead to hospitalization, especially anorexia. Repeated vomiting causes electrolyte disturbances, oesophageal inflammation, and enlarged parotid glands. Splurge eating leads to acute gastric dilatation. Laxative abuse causes dehydration, metabolic changes, and gastrointestinal complications. Anorexia nervosa leads to anaemia, lower bone mineral content, and amenorrhea. Endocrine changes and low calcium intake may prevent achieving the high peak bone mass during the period of rapid skeletal growth.
Treatment of these disorders in teenagers is difficult and requires nutritionists, counsellors, psychiatrists, and therapists.
How do healthy eating and active living work together?
Healthy eating accompanied by active living-physical exercise, sitting less, and moving a lot- lowers the risk of getting chronic ailments, hence helping you have healthy body weight. Active makes you feel healthier and positive, enabling you to keep up with the people surrounding you.
Why is eating healthy important during adolescence
Eating healthy at this stage is essential, as body changes affect an individual’s dietary and nutritional needs. Most teens are becoming independent hence making many food choices. Teens have an increased appetite and need clean-healthy foods to meet their needs. Teens should avoid the wrong types of food, like processed foods, soft drinks, and fast food.