Nutrition Related Problems During Adolescence

Nutrition for Special Groups 3(3+0)

Lesson 25: Nutrition for Adolescents

Nutrition Related Problems During Adolescence


Adolescent obesity
The problem of obesity is seen in many adolescents and it often continues into adulthood. Obesity is more common in females. Without intervention, over weight teenagers will face numerous physical and socio economic consequences for years to come.
Many adolescents try to lose weight. The approaches to weight loss will vary depending on the sex of the adolescent. Girls restrict their food intake and thus suffer from nutrient inadequacies and eating disorders. Boys generally increase their physical activities and thus have fewer eating problems.
It is important that adolescents become aware of ideal weights and the type foods to consume, so that they stop being obsessed with weight gain and loss.
The immediate health hazards of obesity in adolescence are few and rare. However without intervention most obese adolescents become obese adults and obesity is a key risk factor in the development of several chronic disorders.

Eating Disorders
An obsession with thinness results in a serious distortion of body image and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
Anorexia nervosa is a form of self starvation and is seen mainly among young adolescent girls. They perceive themselves to be fat and ugly even when they are severely underweight and emaciated. This condition has its own physical and psychological problems. Anorexia nervosa damages the body as much as starvation. Because of starvation, in young people growth ceases and normal development falters. The basal metabolic rate slows down, the heart pumps inefficiently and the heart muscle becomes weak. Electrolyte imbalances are seen and immune response is impaired. The digestive system also does not function properly, further aggravating the situation. The menstrual cycle is affected and this can lead to infertility at a later stage.

Bulimia Nervosa
A person with bulimia has recurrent episodes of binge eating and the amount of food is also more than the normal portions. During the episode she has a sense of lack of control over eating. These episodes occur at least twice a week after which the person self induces vomiting or misuses laxatives, diuretics, other medications, fasting or excessive exercise in order to prevent weight gain.
Weight maintenance rather than cyclic gain and losses is the treatment goal in this condition. Very often anorexia nervosa and bulimia overlap and can occur in the same person.

Last modified: Monday, 7 May 2012, 11:28 AM