Meeting Your Teen's Nutritional Needs

A hallmark of the teenage years is growing autonomy and independence from family and parents, and teens are more likely to be eating outside the home than ever before. But teens have especially important nutritional needs. So, what's a parent to do?

THE FACTS:

  1. Increasing Independence
    Teens often eat with friends instead of family. They have increasing control over food choices, often experimenting with fad diets, new trends or different types of foods.
  2. What Teenagers Care About
    The majority of teenagers are more concerned with athletic prowess and body image than they are with long-term health. They are more likely to limit calories and fat to lose weight than to keep their cardiovascular system healthy. Teen athletes are also susceptible to using ergogenic supplements that are often unproven and may have serious side effects.
  3. Nutritional Needs For Teens Nutrients of primary concern during teen years are iron, calcium and total calorie intake. Teen food intake studies show their diets are most often lacking in sufficient amounts of iron and calcium to support growth and health. If teens limit calories to control body weight, growth can actually be negatively affected.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM

A Parent's Role
Most of the groundwork for your teen's diet has been laid in the meals and snacks you provided earlier in their life. However, there are some important things you can do to continue to positively influence your teen's diet:

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