Home' Nova National : August 2010 Contents 33
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derangements associated with metabolic
syndrome, including Type 2 diabetes, are
completely avoidable, simply by making
healthier diet and lifestyle choices.
What is our future?
Unfortunately, based on the fact that
adolescents become obese adults,  we
may be burdened with a lot of public health
problems in the future . For example, adult
metabolic syndrome imposes a substantial
risk for Type 2 diabetes and other health
problems in the future. Simple deficiencies
in various vitamins and minerals can lead
to various health problems -- for example,
certain chronic forms of gastrointestinal
disorders are associated with Vitamin K
Another prime example is calcium and
Vitamin D. Deficiencies in calcium and
Vitamin D have been linked to skeletal
disorders, malignancies (particularly of
the colon, breast, prostrate gland), chronic
inflammatory conditions, rheumatoid
arthritis, autoimmune diseases, metabolic
disorders, Type 1 diabetes and the
perturbation of cellular functions in the
bones, kidneys and intestines [13,14,16].
It has also been suggested that the RDI
of calcium and Vitamin D is inadequate
to prevent chronic disease.  What does
this mean for adolescents? Simply, it means
that adolescents need to consume as
much nutritionally dense food as possible
and, if possible, supplement appropriately.
What is the solution?
Based on this information, you might
suspect the future of the human
population to be quite dim! But it is never
too late to make a change -- you know the
old story "prevention is better than cure".
Some simple steps to ensure optimal
nutritional adolescent health may be:
● Eat as many organic and fresh vegetables
and fruits as possible. Fruit and vegetables
contain various minerals, vitamins and
trace elements, as well as providing our
body with a source of fibre.
● Ensure your diet is balanced, consisting
of complex carbohydrates and good
quality protein. Lean meat and complex
carbohydrates are essential for adolescents'
growing bodies, as they provide energy
and valuable nutrients essential for growth.
● Nature does it best, so avoid synthetic
and highly processed food. This includes
artificial sugars, as well as junk food, cans of
soft drink and, of course, alcohol.
●Eat as "organically" as possible. Adolescents
are going through many hormonal changes
during this time, and do not need the extra
burden of artificial colours and flavours or
the impact of xenoestrogens and pesticides
on their system.
● Eat for a healthy mind. There is a
significant link between our moods and
what we eat. A healthy mind leads to a
healthy body (and visa versa).
● Supplement wisely. In my opinion,
supplementation is essential during
adolescence, due to the poor quality of
soil and feeding practices of animals.
Look for supplements that are suitable for
● Maintain a healthy lifestyle. This involves
providing time for adolescents to exercise,
continue their hobbies and to socialise.
Encourage your young people to exercise
in a fun way (such as in a sporting team)
and empower them to make responsible
● Lastly, lead by example. Unfortunately,
the "do what I say not what I do" model
doesn't necessarily work with adolescents,
as they learn by watching the behaviour
of their parents. If you are a parent and
want you adolescent child to exercise,
maybe you could suggest exercising with
them. That way, you are improving your
health and leading them along the path
to a healthier life.
Although we can start making these
changes in the home, they need to be
followed through. I applaud school
canteens that are now stocking "healthy"
options, but just because they stock
them doesn't mean young people are
necessarily buying them.
Obviously, more comprehensive
programs need to be established to meet
the nutritional, medical and psychosocial
needs of adolescents, and nutrition
and health professions need to tailor
educational and treatment strategies,
according to both the gender and the
specific dietary outcomes of their clients
[3,4]. Due to the increase in overweight
youth, it is clear we need to focus on primary
prevention and urgently implement
measures to prevent further increases in
Further research is needed in the area
of adolescent nutritional requirements. In
the meantime, we know that prevention is
better than cure, so making some simple
lifestyle changes now may dramatically
improve the quality of life in the future. ●
1. Journal of the American Medical Association (2000).
Prevalence and Trends in Overweight Among US Children
2. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2002). Trends of
obesity and underweight in older children and adolescents
in the United States, Brazil, China and Russia.
3. Journal of Public Health (2007). Nutritional status and
lifestyles of adolescents from a public health perspective.
The HELENA Project - Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by
Nutrition in Adolescence.
4. Journal of Adolescent Health (1996). Influences on
adolescent eating behavior.
5. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000). Energy
and fat intakes of children and adolescents in the United
States: data from the National Health and Nutrition
6. Archives of Pediatrics (2003). Prevalence of a Metabolic
Syndrome Phenotype in Adolescents.
7. The Lancet (1988). Effect of Vitamin and Mineral
supplementation on intelligence of a sample of school
8. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (1995).
Overweight prevalence and trends for children and
9. Nutrition (2004). Trends in nutritional status and stature
among school-age children in Chile.
10. Journal of Pediatrics (2000). Nutrition in adolescence.
11. Pediatrics in Review (2002). Nutrition in adolescence.
12. American Journal of Nutrition (1985). The prevalence
of vitamin K deficiency in chronic gastrointestinal
13. European Journal of Clinical Investigation (2005).
Vitamin D and calcium deficits predispose for multiple
14. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004). Vitamin
D: importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1
diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
15. Nutrition Journal (2008). Fatty acid status and
behavioural symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder in adolescents: A case-control study.
16. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004). Vitamin
D and health in the 21st century: Bone and beyond.
17. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
(1995). Supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated
fatty acids in the management of dysmenorrhoea in
18. Journal of Pediatrics (1982). Progressive neuromuscular
disease in children with chronic cholestasis and vitamin E
deficiency: Diagnosis and treatment with alpha tocopherol.
19. Circulation (1999). Serum Glutathione in Adolescent
Males Predicts Parental Coronary Heart Disease.
If you have a question for Vanessa
Solomon you can contact her at
'The period from the 1990s to today has seen a massive
increase in obesity in adolescents, which has coincided with
the increase in processed food.'
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