Given their important relationships with medium- and long-term outcomes, adolescent nutritional behaviours are assuming considerable importance in nutrition interventions. A study on delivering an action agenda for nutrition interventions addressing adolescent girls and young women: priorities for implementation and research, was recently published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. The study describes evidence-based nutrition recommendations and the current global guidance for nutrition actions for adolescents as young people undergo major anatomical and physiological maturational changes in preparation for adulthood.
Despite the limitations of available information, researchers believe that a range of interventions are feasible to address outcomes in this age group, although some would need to start earlier in childhood. Findings show that nutritional requirements are higher during adolescence than during the prepubescent stage and during adulthood. A significant proportion of adolescents also become parents, and hence the importance of their health and nutritional status before as well as during pregnancy has its impact on their own health, fetal well-being, and newborn health.
The need for delivery platforms and strategies, relevant to low- and middle-income countries was highlighted with a clear need to translate evidence into policy, for the implementation of key recommendations and addressing knowledge gaps through prioritized research.
Researchers propose packages of preventive care and management comprising nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions to address adolescent under nutrition, over nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. The study concluded that compromised health among young people also affects the health of future generations; therefore, strategies that can improve their health are good investments in both the short and longer terms. The recent pledges on sustainable development goals have provided a renewed agenda to improve the health of adolescents and young people by strengthening the delivery mechanisms of healthcare interventions.
Professor Andrew Prentice commented, “There have never been more adolescents in the history of our planet than there are now. They will soon become parents and therefore are the gateway to our future. Caring for their nutrition will play a significant part in creating an optimum start for the next generation, and will likely have an impact for generations that follow.”