Your teenage years see many changes to your body and your lifestyle. Eating a healthy, varied diet and keeping active will be good for your health and help you deal with times of stress, for example exams, school moves and family situations. It will also help you develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits that will hopefully last you for life.
Growth and development are rapid during your teenage years, and the demand for energy and most nutrients is relatively high. The growth spurt normally begins at around the age of 10 years in girls and 12 years in boys.
For boys and girls, an average of 23cm is added to height and 20-26kg is added in weight. Before this growth spurt, boys and girls have an average of 15% body fat. During adolescence this increases to about 20% in girls and decreases to about 10% in boys.
There are many lifestyle changes that occur during the teenage years. Starting secondary school often brings more independence; giving you more freedom to choose your own foods and how you spend your free time. Try not to become the stereotypical teenager who spends all their time sitting down watching television or playing computer games and making poor food choices.
This is also a time in your life when you might become more aware of your own body and feel pressure from your peers and the media to look a certain way – often an unrealistic thin ideal. The pressure can lead some teens to skip meals and follow unnecessary weight loss diets, which in extreme cases can lead to conditions such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa.
- © British Nutrition Foundation 2012