• Nutrition and the Health of Young People

    1. Proper nutrition promotes the optimal growth and development of children

    2. Healthy eating helps prevent high cholesterol and high blood pressure and helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes
    3. Healthy eating helps reduce one’s risk for developing obesity, osteoporosis, iron deficiency, and

    dental caries (cavities).

    4. Healthy eating is associated with reduced risk for many diseases, including several of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.

    5. Healthy eating in childhood and adolescence is important for proper growth and development and can prevent health problems such as obesity, dental caries, iron deficiency, and osteoporosis.


    The Dietary Guidelines for Americans

    1. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products for persons aged 2 years and older.
    2. Children, adolescents, and adults limit intake of solid fats (major sources of saturated and trans fatty acids), cholesterol, sodium, added sugars, and refined grains.
    3. Benefits of healthy eating and proper nutrition promotes the optimal growth and development of children.

    4. Healthy eating helps prevent high cholesterol and high blood pressure and helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

    Healthy eating helps reduce one’s risk for developing obesity, osteoporosis, iron deficiency, and dental caries (cavities).


    Consequences of a Poor Diet

    1. A poor diet can lead to energy imbalance (e.g., eating more calories than one expends through physical activity) and can increase one’s risk for overweight and obesity.

    2. A poor diet can increase the risk for lung, esophageal, stomach, colorectal, and prostate cancers.9 Individuals who eat fast food one or more times per week are at increased risk for weight gain, overweight, and obesity.

    3. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages can result in weight gain, overweight, and obesity.

    4. Providing access to drinking water gives students a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.

    5. Hunger and food insecurity (i.e., reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns because a household lacks money and other resources for food) might increase the risk for lower dietary quality and undernutrition. In turn, undernutrition can negatively affect overall health, cognitive development, and school performance.


    Eating Behaviors of Young People

    1. Most U.S. youth Do Not meet the recommendations for eating 2! cups to 6! cups* of fruits and vegetables each day.

    2. Do not eat the minimum recommended amounts of whole grains (2–3 ounces* each day).

    3. Eat more than the recommended maximum daily intake of sodium (1,500–2,300 mg* each day).

    4. Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children and adolescents aged 2–18 years, affecting the overall quality of their diets. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.

    5. Adolescents drink more full-calorie soda per day than milk. Males aged 12–19 years drink an average of 22 ounces of full-calorie soda per day, more than twice their intake of fluid milk (10 ounces), and females drink an average of 14 ounces of full-calorie soda and only 6 ounces of fluid milk.


    Diet and Academic Performance

    1. Eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory), reduced absenteeism, and improved mood.



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    Page last reviewed: October 6, 2014 Page last updated: October 6, 2014

    Content source: National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health and National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health

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