During adolescence, children undergo rapid changes in their physical, mental, emotional and social growth. These changes can influence how they feel, think and interact with others. Their behaviours and decisions made during this time may also have health consequences that can impact the course of a lifetime.1 Parents can help set up their adolescent child for a healthy life and take advantage of this last major growth spurt through good nutrition.
Teens Undergo Physical And Emotional Changes During Adolescence (Click to expand)
Adolescence is a time of rapid changes and development. Some of the changes happening during this time include:
- Physical changes such as increasing height and muscle mass.2
- Weight fluctuations due to bodies changing and growing. Such can also impact eating patterns (Eg. increase in appetite).
- Developmental changes in the brain impact emotional responses, sleep regulation, and decision-making.3
- Increasing cognitive and intellectual abilities such as developing stronger reasoning skills, abstract thinking and starting to consider other’s perspectives.4
Positive Influencers Can Positively Impact Adolescents (Click to expand)
Teens are going through significant changes that influence their thoughts and behaviours. People in the adolescents’ immediate environments can influence these changes and play an important role in helping teens adopt healthy habits like good nutrition. Key influencers can include parents, family members, friends, teachers, service providers and trusted adults (e.g., coaches, counsellors, etc.).5 While parents may not think or feel like they influence their children, they still do.
Parents Can Make A Difference And Help Teens Reach Their Optimal Growth Potential (Click to expand)
Parents can help their teens take advantage of this final major growth spurt during adolescence and seize the opportunity to meet their genetic height potential through staying connected with them and incorporating good nutrition into their daily diet.
Ways that parents can support their child include:
- Educate Yourself: Speak to a healthcare professional or look up credible resources to learn what type of foods and nutrients you should be offering your child to support their growth.
- Stay in Touch with Key Influencers: Regularly touch bases with your child’s teachers, coaches or other influencers to make sure they are getting the physical, mental, emotional and social support they need.
- Make Nutritious Foods Available: Parents often do the grocery shopping and set the menus for meals, so provide teens with complete nutrition and increase their intake of key growth nutrients including high-quality proteins, calcium and Vitamin K2. It can be achieved by introducing nutritious foods such as lean meats, dairy products, or nutritional drinks or protein shakes into your child’s diets.
- Communicate with Your Teens: Parents can talk with their children about the importance of nutrition and how it can benefit them, such as helping them grow, so that teens understand what good nutrition is and will build healthy eating habits early.
By understanding adolescent changes, building strong relationships with your young ones and focusing on good nutrition, parents can help their teens achieve a healthy foundation in life.
Get Tips On How You Can Support Your Teen To Form Healthy Eating Habits (Click to expand)
Getting your teen to eat healthily doesn't mean asking them to give up on all their favorite foods. It simply means offering them a variety of foods from each of the four food groups and reducing the quantity and frequency of food or beverages high in fat and sugar, such as soft drinks, cookies, cakes and deep-fried food. Some tips to improve dietary habits include:
- Make breakfast a habit – Skipping breakfast affects energy levels for the rest of the day
- Make family mealtime a priority – Being the right role model for your teen is the first step to helping them establish healthy eating habits
- Get teens involved in meal planning to give them a sense of ownership
- Start small but make progressive changes – Start by making one swap at a time – replacing a nutrient poor choice with nutrient dense food or beverage
Consider The Use Of A Complete, Balanced Oral Nutritional Supplement (Click to expand)
Oral nutrition supplements may help adolescents to plug nutritional gaps (e.g. for those with poor appetite), replace unhealthy food or drink options, or support an active lifestyle. The ideal supplement for your teen should be tailored to meet the increased needs for key nutrients during the period of accelerated growth. A complete, balanced oral nutritional supplement that supplies a wide range of micronutrients would be more advantageous than conventional beverages which tend to be less nutrient dense.
1World Health Organization. Adolescent Development.
2World Health Organization. Health for the World’s Adolescents. A Second Chance in the Second Decade.
3World Health Organization. Health for the World’s Adolescents. A Second Chance in the Second Decade.
4World Health Organization. Health for the World’s Adolescents. A Second Chance in the Second Decade.
5World Health Organization. Health for the World’s Adolescents. A Second Chance in the Second Decade.