Teeangers 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 may help you deal with times of stress, for example exams, school moves and family situations. It may also help you develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits that can hopefully last you for life.

Growth

Your teenage years are a time of rapid growth and development, and the requirements for some nutrients, like calcium and phosphorus, is fairly high. The age at which you have a growth spurt will vary, but in girls the growth spurt normally peaks at age 12.5 years and in boys at age 14 years.

How much you grow in height varies between the different stages of puberty (called Tanner stages) as well as between girls and boys.

Tanner Stage Average growth in girls Average growth in boys
1 5-6cm/year 5-6cm/year
2 7-8cm/year 5-6cm/year
3 8cm/year 7-8cm/year
4 Less than 7cm/year 10cm/year
5 Stop growing around age 16 years Stop growing around age 17 years

A teenage lifestyle

Many lifestyle changes take place when you’re a teenager. When you start secondary school, you often have more independence and therefore freedom to choose what you want to eat and how you spend your free time. It’s important that you don’t spend too much time sitting down and that you keep active. Young people should try and do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, ranging between moderate (e.g. walking or cycling) and vigorous activity (e.g. running or football). On three days a week, you should also do activities that include exercises for strong muscles and bones, such as push-ups, jumping and running. It isn’t just organised activities that count though, as other activities that could be part of your daily routine count too, such as walking or cycling to school or college. This time can be a great opportunity to join a club if you like team sports, which is also a great way to meet new friends.

This is also a time in your life when you might become more aware of your own body and feel pressure from your friends, peers and the media to look a certain way – for example, social pressure to be thin or muscular. The pressure can lead some teens to exercise excessively, skip meals and follow unnecessary weight loss diets, which in extreme cases can lead to eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa.

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