Nutritional Concerns During Adolescence
Adolescence is a period of dramatic growth and development. As a child evolves into an adult, a complex myriad of physiologic as well as psychologic alterations takes place. These changes create special nutrition needs, and in the following pages we shall review selected aspects of adolescent nutrition. Adolescent nutrient requirements and food habits as well as the special nutrition needs of obese, athletic, or pregnant teenagers will be presented. We also discuss the nutritional implications of alcohol abuse, use of oral contraceptive agents, and acne during the adolescent period. The critical role of nutrition in pubertal growth and development actually begins before adolescence, during childhood. This fact is supported by the observation that taller, heavier children enter puberty earlier than shorter, lighter children. Nonetheless, total nutrient needs are higher during adolescence than at any other time in the life cycle. Failure to consume an adequate diet at this time can potentially retard growth and delay sexual maturity.