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International trends in adolescent nutrition


  • Schneider, Dona


This paper addresses international trends in adolescent nutrition by reviewing the literature from English-language indexed journals and online sources from around the world. Information is presented by geographic region and by nation within region. The literature shows that malnutrition remains a significant problem for adolescents, worldwide, but that the types of nutritional problems impacting this group have changed significantly over the past two decades. While undernutrition and wasting are reported, these conditions, as well as growth stunting, seem to be on the decline. In developed countries, social pressures to achieve a distorted body image are creating a malnutrition of affluence among some groups of adolescents. There appears to be an increasing prevalence of obesity among adolescents worldwide, explained by widespread nutrition transitions to lipid-rich diets and a decrease in physical activity, especially among urban adolescents. These trends are of international importance as they imply the world will see a shift towards longer life spans for this adolescent cohort, with a concomitant increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases as it ages. The epidemiologic transition that will result may be a mixed blessing. It is likely to produce a larger and healthier international workforce, but it also has the potential of becoming a serious burden as demands for health care and support services for those with chronic diseases increase. To prevent inordinate health care demands on the international economy in the future, dietary recommendations with nutritional education programs that are culturally appropriate need to become national priorities.

Suggested Citation

  • Schneider, Dona, 2000. "International trends in adolescent nutrition," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 955-967, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:51:y:2000:i:6:p:955-967

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    Cited by:

    1. Crossman, Ashley & Anne Sullivan, Deborah & Benin, Mary, 2006. "The family environment and American adolescents' risk of obesity as young adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(9), pages 2255-2267, November.
    2. Zajc Petranović, Matea & Tomas, Željka & Smolej Narančić, Nina & Škarić-Jurić, Tatjana & Veček, Andrea & Miličić, Jasna, 2014. "A six decades long follow-up on body size in adolescents from Zagreb, Croatia (1951–2010)," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 155-164.
    3. McPhail, Deborah & Chapman, Gwen E. & Beagan, Brenda L., 2011. ""Too much of that stuff can't be good": Canadian teens, morality, and fast food consumption," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 301-307, July.


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