Adolescence is a period in which the foundations of eating behavior can be laid to create a solid ground for a healthy lifelong eating plan. The above can contribute to the later life of the individual, to the prevention of certain diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, certain forms of cancer, etc. For example, several studies have highlighted the role of a balanced diet in reducing the chances of developing stomach or bowel cancer.
Indicatively, the research carried by Gonzales & Riboli (2010), pointed out the role of fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids (a group of natural dyes found in carrots, tomatoes, mandarins, oranges, etc.) and the Mediterranean diet in prevention of stomach cancer and the role of vitamin D, calcium and fish consumption in that of colon cancer. Also, the same research claimed that an obese person is more likely to get the above types of cancer.
In recent decades, many teenagers have exceeded what is considered normal weight. This may be due to lack of exercise and modern lifestyle that can lead to unhealthy eating choices.
Excess weight can cause both physical health problems (such as certain types of cancer, heart problems, increased “bad” cholesterol, skin relaxation, etc.) and mental health (feelings of inferiority, a tendency to isolate oneself from the social environment, lack of self-confidence, etc.).
The Institute of Preventive, Environmental and Occupational Medicine “Prolepsis” lists an indicative “Decalogue” a Healthy Eating Guide for children and adolescents. It is therefore recommended to consume:
• A variety of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis
• Milk, yogurt or cheese daily
• Variety of cereals daily (if possible whole grain)
• Eating red meat and/or white lean meat two to three times a week and avoiding processed meat
• Fish and seafood two to three times a week and at least once a week consumption of fatty fish
• 4 to 7 eggs a week
• Legumes at least once a week
• Live oil as the first choice in cooking and salads
• Place restriction on sugar and salt consumption
• Physical activity, daily if possible
It is also a good idea to encourage children to eat 3 meals a day, a snack a day and plenty of water. It is also necessary to consume seasonal products and, if possible, of organic farming.
Finally, it is worth noting that caregivers of adolescent children need to act as a role model and encourage the adoption of healthy habits.
Gonzales, C. A. & Riboli, E. (2010). Diet and cancer prevention: Contributions from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. European Journal of Cancer, 46(14), 2555-2562.