Getting a teenager to plan anything beyond the next 3 years may seem impossible. Getting them to eat healthy so they’ll have a happy life is just as difficult. While this may seem like a daunting task, studies are showing that it’s an issue that has to be put into the forefront.
Experts are saying that teenagers are increasingly eating mainly junk food, and are getting deprived of vital nutrients. At the same time, they’re at a greater risk for heart disease.
Researchers Say It’s a Time Bomb
A study that appeared in the journal Complete Nutrition examined the relationship that teenagers have with junk food. The researchers found that they were extremely lacking essential vitamins and nutrients that are key to a healthy diet. Between teenaged boys and girls, teenaged girls were in the highest risk group.
A diet comprised mainly of junk food has high levels of salt, fat and sugar. This means that there is little room for healthier foods like fruits, vegetables, and important omega 3 fats that come from fish.
The girls were low on iron magnesium and selenium. They found 10% of the girls were lacking levels of calcium, which could cause them to have weak bones later in life. 1 out of every 6 teenaged girls was also low on sodium. Sodium helps a baby to develop its brain within the womb, suggesting that a junk food diet would make for difficult pregnancies later on.
10% of teenaged boys had a deficiency in zinc. Zinc is a key component in creating sperm and helping muscles recover after rigorous workouts.
Researchers say that this is a vital time in a teenager’s life. Their quickly changing bodies and brains need proper nutrition. Teenagers are often unaware of this and opt for junk food. The study says, “Unfortunately, this is often hampered by social factors, body image concerns and the fact that many young people “live for the minute”, being unaware of how current diets can affect later health.”
Teenagers Eating Junk Food Risk Obesity and Heart Disease
A study was recently done by the American College of Cardiology, in Anaheim, California. They examined the diets of over 200 high school students and then measured their blood pressure levels and the size of their arteries.
They found that 33% of the students had unusually high blood pressure levels. The researchers also took a measurement of the teenagers’ carotid arteries, located on the neck. They found that some of the teenagers had thickened carotid arteries.
The thick arteries could suggest that fat had deposited and caused its size to increase. This is often associated with warning signs of obesity and future heart disease.
Changing the Way They Eat
Making small changes in a diet can make a big difference in a teenager’s junk food intake. Merely drinking less sugary drinks like soft drinks can make a significant difference. Studies have shown that teenagers that bring food from home are less likely to eat as much junk food; so having food for them could lead to a healthier diet.
One of the biggest obstacles to a healthy diet for teenagers is the belief that healthy food is expensive and doesn’t taste good. Simply trying healthier options over time can make junk food seem unappetizing and lifeless in comparison. Comparing prices of healthy food to junk food can show that the difference in pricing isn’t as big as they may believe.
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