Growth and Development With the onset of puberty, the final growth spurt occurs and abrupt and dramatic changes occur. Hormones direct the intensity and duration of the adolescent growth spurt and profoundly affect all the organs in the body. The growth spurt lasts for 2 to 2 ½ years but varies not only between sexes but also between individuals.
The most obvious change is that in linear growth. Most children shoot up in height, girls around 12 years of age and boys around 14 years of age. Girls show an increase in subcutaneous fat deposits, increase in hip breadth and widening of the pelvis. Boys show an increase in muscle mass and long bone growth. Body composition also varies distinctly between boys and girls. Boys have more muscle mass while girls have more fat. Secondary sex characteristics are seen in both sexes at this time.
Nutrient and food energy deficiencies during adolescence can retard growth and delay sexual maturation. Development during adolescence depends not only on the individuals present nutritional status but also on previous nutrient intake. However, given adequate nutrition, previously undernourished children ‘catch up’ on their growth during the period of adolescent growth spurt.