Teens: why they like junk food and what is the ideal diet

Teens: why they like junk food and what is the ideal diet

In a time of great change, children are also gaining autonomy in their food choices. What to propose at the table

Adolescence is a very delicate age for our children because it is characterized by important psycho-physiological changes, including above all the rapid growth in height and the maturation of the proportions of the body and sexual characteristics. From a nutritional point of view, it is precisely because the body undergoes particularly rapid growth in this phase that the needs in energy and nutrients are very high. However, in Italy adolescents seem to show poor adherence to nutritional recommendations, as stated in the Guidelines for healthy eating (rev. 2018) drawn up by the experts of Crea.

"And with the advent of social media, things have even worsened", writes Dr. Elena Dogliotti, nutrition biologist, scientific supervisor of the prestigious Umberto Veronesi Foundation in her book "A diet for every age. Nutrition and balance in every phase of life "(Sperling & Kupfer), a volume in which, on the basis of the most recent research, it suggests valuable indications for changing our eating habits for the better in all phases of life such as childhood, adolescence, adulthood , pregnancy, menopause and andropause, old age and avoiding some of the most common mistakes.


  • Junk food
  • Influencer and fast food
  • The diet for teenagers

Junk food

“There is emerging evidence that food marketing is highly prevalent in the digital spaces frequented by young people. A study that surveyed ten popular websites among teenagers (12-17 years) in Canada recorded 14.4 million food ads in a single year, with cakes, cookies and ice cream packaged among the most advertised products. Another research – says the expert in the volume – examined the YouTube videos popular with children, concluding that food and drinks were advertised more frequently than any other product (38% of ads) and the majority (56.3%) promoted unhealthy foods ”.

Influencer and fast food

"The various brands also use the power of social media influencers to propagate their messages in a semi-hidden way, and this seems to work much better than classic advertisements," continues Dr. Dogliotti. As for fast food, leaving out the recent problems related to the pandemic from Covid-19, they are meeting places that teenagers often love thanks to the opportunity to find adequate spaces for chatting, food and music until late at night. "With these tempting immediate rewards available, it is easy to overlook the possible long-term negative consequences of excessive consumption of junk foods, such as weight gain or the risk of developing disease as an adult."

The diet for teenagers

But eating adequately during adolescence is extremely important. The right diet in the growing years is essential for optimal physical and cognitive development, to maintain weight within the normal range and to establish healthy and lasting eating habits that will affect the health of the adult. Here, then, is a series of food tips for children. Between these:

  • Always consume foods of plant origin, fruit, vegetables and legumes, to improve both the ratio between macronutrients and the intake of minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.
    Avoid adopting unbalanced and monotonous eating patterns beyond all control, perhaps following the rules of the moment.
  • Be especially careful, especially if you are a girl, to cover your increased iron and calcium needs. Following some trends in vogue that lead to the exclusion of certain food groups without a particular motivation (tastes, allergies, pathologies ..), risk leading to deficiencies and creating obsessions towards food.
  • Regularly consume foods that are sources of calcium, such as milk and yogurt (2 or 3 servings per day of 125 ml); cheeses, preferably with a lower fat content (2 portions of 100 g per week); small fish eaten with bones up to 3 times a week; vegetables rich in calcium; medium mineral water (between 500 mg and 1500 mg liter of minerals). In this way, the right intake is guaranteed, which at this age is essential, together with physical activity and sun exposure, for a healthy musculoskeletal system.
  • Have an adequate breakfast every day.
  • Always prefer water to quench your thirst, limiting the intake of sugary drinks.
  • Limit the consumption of foods rich in fat, sugar and salt.

In her book, Dr. Dogliotti also collected the most common questions asked by adolescents in her countless meetings organized by the Umberto Veronesi Foundation to talk about nutrition and prevention in middle and high schools. Among these, why it is really important to have a good breakfast in the morning, how to eat healthier during the interval of lessons and the role of food supplements, providing clear and comprehensive answers on proper nutrition.

Eating well to live better, therefore: "Teenagers are in a phase of life in which they absorb a lot of information – concludes the expert – and can begin to store advice on foods that are good for you and those that should be limited, and then put them in practice in the future ".

Tag: Adolescence Family Diets

Category: Welfare
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