Dieting Facts for Teens
Teens often make unhealthy nutritional choices. According to Paediatric Child Health, teens who follow strict diets are more worried about their outward appearance than their actual health and that about 33 percent of all teenage girls who diet are already at a healthy weight. Parental awareness of how dieting can influence teens is important to their overall health.
Reason for Dieting
Most teenage dieting starts because of a negative body image. The stars that teens in the media are usually skinny, which creates an unattainable body goal. According to TeensHealth, teenage girls are especially prone to body image issues in their early teens because their bodies change rapidly. Dieting, however, can lead to health problems, especially if the teen wishes to look like the girls she sees in magazines.
Paediatric Child Health reports that girls tend to diet more than boys -- half of all girls and one-quarter of all boys diet during their teenage years. The problem is that one-third of all teenage girls who diet are already at a healthy weight and are dieting to lose even more weight. Dieting is not generally necessary at this age because teens have specific nutritional needs for their development.
Problems with Dieting
Teens who choose to diet are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors because they are not as healthy psychologically as teens who do not diet. These teens are more likely to have a negative body image, lower self-esteem and less of a connection with their friends and family. Paediatric Child Health suggests that these problems make them more likely to engage in unprotected sex, drink alcohol, use drugs and start smoking than nondieting counterparts. Teens who diet are also more likely to turn to diet pills or suffer from an eating disorder because they never feel as though their bodies are good enough.
Because teens are still growing, the right nutrients are needed to keep them healthy. Teenage boys need about 2,800 calories per day, while teenage girls require about 2,200 calories per day to maintain a proper level of energy. It is equally important to eat foods from each food group. HealthyChildren.org recommends that a teen's diet be made up of 50 percent to 60 percent complex carbohydrates, less than 30 percent dietary fat and the remaining calories should come from proteins 3. The average teenage consumes twice as much protein as he needs, so supplementing the diet with carbs and fats can help keep a teen on a healthy diet.
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