— Nutrition and Young People —

Healthy eating contributes to overall healthy growth and development, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Good nutrition is necessary for healthy bones, skin and energy levels. The CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Adolescent and School Health compiled these research findings:

Diet and Disease

Early indicators of atherosclerosis, the most common cause of heart disease,
begin as early as childhood and adolescence. Atherosclerosis is related to high blood cholesterol levels, which are associated with poor dietary habits.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult onset diabetes, has become
increasingly prevalent among children and adolescents as rates of obesity rise. A CDC study estimated that 1 in 3 American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime.

Excess weight and obesity, influenced by poor diet and inactivity, are
significantly associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, joint problems and poor health status.

Overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become overweight or
obese adults. One study showed that children who became obese by age 8 were
more severely obese as adults.

Eating Behaviors

Less than 40 percent of children and adolescents in the United States eat a diet sufficiently low in saturated fat to fall within U.S. dietary guidelines.

In 2009, only about 1 in 5 high school students reported having in the previous week eaten the recommended minimum of at least five servings daily of fruits and vegetables (when fried potatoes and potato chips were excluded).

Less than 40 percent of children ages 2-17 meet the USDA’s dietary recommendation for fiber (found primarily in dried beans and peas, fruits,
vegetables and whole grains).

Eighty-five percent of adolescent females do not consume enough calcium.
During the last 25 years, consumption of milk, the largest source of calcium, has decreased 36 percent among adolescent girls.

Diet and Academic Performance

Research suggests that not having breakfast can affect children’s intellectual performance. The percentage of young people who eat breakfast decreases with age; while 92 percent of children ages 6–11 eat breakfast, only 77 percent of adolescents ages 12–19 eat breakfast.

Hunger and food insufficiency in children are associated with poor behavior as well as academic function.

If you are seeking further research in this area, here is a handful of helpful websites and articles to assist in your search.