Section 1, Article 4 - Once puberty hits, both male and female adolescents experience a great deal of physical growth, affecting virtually every part of the body. The first change in puberty is the , which aids in the physical transformation of children into young adults. The growth spurt is typically accompanied by an increase in appetite and weight gain, referred to as the weight spurt. During puberty, physical growth begins with the weight spurt, followed by a height spurt, and finally a muscle spurt approximately one to two years later. Internal organs such as the lungs, heart, and skin also experience rapid growth and transformation.
In order to adequately support the physical changes that take place during puberty, good diet and nutrition are crucial. Unfortunately, most adolescents eat a poor diet that fails to provide adequate nourishment for their growing bodies. Common deficiencies include those related to low levels of iron, calcium, zinc, and other minerals. Because menstruation depletes iron, deficiencies and even anemia are more common in girls. While iron deficiencies may lead to poor muscle growth, calcium deficiencies can negatively impact bone mass and may even lead to osteoporosis later in life.
In some cases, poor nutrition may be caused by the choices that one makes to combat their poor . In this age period, many people have a poor body image and are even on diets to help them lose weight, despite few of them actually being overweight or obese (). This is due, in part, to adolescents’ awareness of the changes that are taking place in their bodies; while some adolescents react to these changes with great joy, others react in sheer horror. Body dissatisfaction and dieting can be very dangerous and could possibly lead to death (). Eating disorders are more common in girls, and they are manifested in extreme disordered behaviors. Two common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is the most deadly of the two— in fact, this is the most deadly mental disorder. This disorder involves depriving one’s vital organs of nutrition by voluntarily under-eating and often over-exercising. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by binging on food and then purging. Typically, this is done by forcing oneself to vomit and/or by laxative use. Adolescents are a vulnerable population for eating disorders, which is cause for major concern (; ). Healthy relationships with food start in the home, and combatting such disorders with therapies that involve one’s family has been found to be more successful, especially in adolescence (). In contrast to the aforementioned eating disorders, many adolescents struggle with obesity. The major contributing factors for adolescent obesity include a lack of exercise, increased caloric intake, and sedentary activities. Having healthy models in the home is important in combatting obesity as well.