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Adolescent Nutrition

Author(s): Roberta Anding, MS, RD/LD, CDE

Nutritional Problems in Adolescents

The incidence of obesity among six- to eleven-year-olds in the US has more than doubled in the past 20 years (USDHHS, 2004). As reported by the Office of the Surgeon General (USDHHS, 2001), most young people are not following  recommendations set forth in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For example, 67%  of youths aged 6-19 exceed dietary guidelines for fat intake and 72%  exceed recommendations for saturated fat intake.

Most nutritional problems in adolescents are related to the consumption of too much “junk food,” or food with limited or no nutritional value. Most junk food is characterized by high levels of fats, particularly saturated fats, and refined sugar. The portion sizes of junk food also typically are very large. In addition, most adolescents eat very few fruits and vegetables per day or chose items, such as iceberg lettuce, with low nutritional values.

The eating habits of today’s adolescents will lead to future health care problems. Obesity is related to a number of health problems, including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer (NHLBI, 2004). Osteoporosis also is a growing problem, even among adolescents. Poor nutrition and insufficient exercise both contribute to low bone density among teenagers.


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.