Eating Practices of Adolescents
Adolescents face some major problems when it comes to their nutrition. Some of the problem areas related to adolescent eating habits are as follows:
Malnutrition: In poor households, malnutrition is a big concern for adolescents. Not eating enough can result in hindered growth and development. The problem of the non-availability of nutritious food is the major source of malnutrition.
Nutritional Deficiency: On average, adolescents everywhere face nutritional deficiencies in their diet. They do not meet the daily requirements as recommended by doctors. They are most likely to consume energy-giving foods but lack essential vitamins and minerals.
Overeating: To cope with the increased nutrition needs of their body, adolescents often eat more than they require. Adolescence is also a time of great emotional turmoil for most teenagers. Psychologists and doctors have linked emotional stress to binge-eating. They even coined the term “stress eating” for this behavior.
High sugar intake: Sugary foods provide high amounts of energy rapidly and are a preferred energy source for teenagers. Teenagers worldwide often pick up readily available sugary foods like cakes, biscuits, and confectionery to kill hunger pangs on the go. Aerated beverages and packed juices are full of added sugars. Teenagers consume a vast amount of these sugary liquids almost daily.
High consumption of fast food and frozen items: Fast food addiction is a significant problem among teenagers. With a much faster lifestyle, teenagers often choose fast food. However, fast food contributes very little nutritionally. It is high in trans fats, saturated fats, and carbohydrates. Frozen foods contain a high number of preservatives and chemicals to increase the product’s shelf life. These cause ill effects on health.
Skipping of meal: Skipping the meal is a common practice among teens (especially older teens). Teenagers may opt to skip meals in an attempt to watch their calorie intake. School children sometimes skip breakfast due to scarcity of time.
Factors Influencing Food Choice in Adolescents
Numerous factors add to the food choices of adolescents. These factors include:
The appeal of the food: How the food tastes, smells, and looks influence whether teenagers will choose it or not. Some types of food are more enticing for teenagers than others.
Time and convenience: The time required to prepare and eat some foods plays an essential role in their selection. Teenagers and their parents mostly remain very busy with their daily activities. Thus, it becomes difficult to prepare laborious meals. Most of the time, easier quick to make food gets the preference.
Economic conditions: The financial conditions of the family influence the food choices of adolescents considerably. Often in poor households, cheaper options are preferred.
Family: The family of an adolescent plays an essential role in their food selection. People’s eating behavior varies significantly across cultures, religions, and geographical locations. Thus, the food choice of most adolescents is impacted by their parents.
Body consciousness: Body image issues can determine food choices. If they think they are too fat or too skinny, they might consider eating consequently.
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