"Life Cycle of Adolescent" is a decent example of a paper on child development. World Health Organization (WHO) defines adolescence as the “ period in human growth and development that occurs after childhood and before adulthood, from ages 10 to 19” (WHO, 2014). During this period, adolescents undergo critical transitions in life that are mainly characterized by high-level growth and development that can only be close to that of infancy. Most aspects of this growth and development are driven by biological processes starting from puberty that mark the passage from childhood to adolescence.
The biological changes that occur during puberty include an increase in weight and height, sexual maturation, completion of skeletal growth and mass, and changes in body composition (WHO, 2014). However, this life cycle has seen certain changes including later age of marriage, earlier onset of puberty, changing sexual behaviors and attitudes, and communication. Adolescence is also a period in life through which individuals are prepared for adulthood thus key developmental experiences take place. Apart from sexual and physical maturation that increases their requirements for protein, energy, and vitamins, individuals move towards economic and social independence, acquisition of skills necessary to carry out adult roles, developmental identity, and capacity for abstract reasoning.
As stated by Stang & Story (2005), adolescence is not only a period for tremendous growth but also a period of considerable risk in which powerful influences are exerted on by the social context of individuals. Nutritional Challenges Higher rates of growth and development coupled with appropriate psychological changes like increasing demand for independence and desire to make lifestyle choices that conform to peers’ ideals but differ from family ideals put adolescents at risk of poor nutrition.
The tremendous growth that takes place in the life cycle of adolescence that is only second to the first year of life, creates increased demand for higher energy and nutrients. As stated by Stang & Story (2005), during this period, total nutrients required are higher than any other time in a life cycle since optimal nutrition is vital in gaining full growth potential. Individuals who don’ t consume enough during this life cycle can experience delayed sexual maturation, slow or arrest linear growth. Other common risks are iron deficiency anemia, eating disorders, excessive intake of high sugar beverages, underweight, and substance use. Adolescent Diet Plan and Rationale The following diet plan has been suggested for an adolescent girl though quantities may be varied according to age and level of activity.
Breakfast- 3 whole-grain Weetabix served with skim milk, 3 slices of granary bread + oil-based spread, and 200ml fruit juice. Mid-morning: 2 whole wheat biscuits and fruit juice. Lunch: Chicken stew served with 4 slices wholemeal, chopped cucumber, and celery in a bowl + adequate drinking water. Mid-afternoon: 2 Whole wheat biscuits and ½ cup low-fat yogurt.
Dinner: White fish served with 600g cooked basmati rice, cooked vegetables, and drink. Evening snack: 2 slices of toasted bread with oil-based spread and peanut butter and a drink. This diet plan is influenced by the nutritional requirements of adolescents during this stage. The energy proposals above have been influenced by basal metabolic rate, activity levels as well as increased need to support pubertal growth and development. As stated by Stang & Story (2005) the number of calories required by males and females are 2500 Kcal and 2200 Kcal respectively.
Adolescents require 45-65% carbohydrates, 25-35% protein, and 20-25% fat with not more than 10% saturated fat (Stang & Story, 2005). The diet above includes high-energy food sources such as whole grains because adolescents have higher caloric needs due to a higher increase in height, weight, and body mass. The diet is also rich in both plant and animal protein in order to promote growth and development. As stated by Stang & Story (2005), inadequate protein results in reductions in linear growth, reduced accumulation of lean body mass, and delays in sexual maturation.
Fats have been reduced while vegetables and fruits have been provided adequately to ensure adequate vitamins and minerals. Calcium and iron that are required for blood and bone development respectively are also provided an insufficient supply of animal protein, whole grain, and vegetables.
Stang, J. & Story, M. (2005). Guidelines for Adolescent Nutrition Services. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Leadership, Education and Training in Maternal and Child Nutrition, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota.
Adolescent Development Maternal. (n.d.). WHO. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/adolescence/dev/en/