The period of transition from childhood to adulthood is called adolescence. This period is associated with accelerated physical, biochemical, mental and emotional development. It is a period of growth spurt. There are many body changes that occur due to influence of hormones. So the greatest requirement is the right kind of nutrition. For girls adolescence is during the age group 10-13 years.
What adolescent girls need?
Energy – Calorie requirement for girls is more during this period but less as compared to boys. On average girls require 2000 kcal (between the ages of 10 – 15 years)
Protein – To meet the growth needs and for the pubertal changes 1 gm / kg of ideal body weight.
Minerals – Calcium & Iron are particularly needed during adolescence. Bone growth demands calcium. Iron is needed for haemoglobin and blood loss due to menstruation. The deficiency can lead to anemia.
Vitamins – The need for Thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, increases directly with increase in calorie intake. Folic acid & B12 are essential for DNA and RNA synthesis.
Food habits recommended for adolescent years:
Today’s common unhealthy eating patterns are mainly comprised of eating – processed, convenience foods. They are responsible for weight gain. Also various physical and psychological changes also lead to fat deposits during this period. Lifestyle is mainly sedentary and due to lack of physical activity and wrong eating habits lead not only in various deficiencies but also weight gain and obesity.
Besides this, skipping of meals or self starvation leads to anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
Nutritional problems in adolescence:
Obesity – Concern about personal appearance may make the adolescents more conscious about their looks and they may get reluctant to participate in activities like dancing or sports that control weight. Other causes of obesity may be family habits, emotional stress and hormonal imbalance.
Anorexia Nervosa – This is self-induced starvation which is attributed to an obsession in attaining a slim figure that goes as far as starvation and serious health problems. Other causes may be ignorance and lack of availability of food.
Anemia – Lack of good nutrition and consumption of iron rich foods lead to anemia mainly in girls making them more susceptible to the disease.
Under Nutrition – Many household like to cook food as per the likes of the children, making them skip on the essential nutrients that actually need. Moreover India is associated with lower nutrition rates and poverty that are responsible for under nutrition or malnutrition.