Today, The Lancet will launch a series of three papers that compile knowledge on the role of nutrition in adolescent growth and the drivers of adolescent food choice, and provide recommendations on how to achieve better nutrition outcomes for this generation. The papers will be officially launched at an event hosted by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and The Lancet today.
Adolescence brings phenomenal growth, transforming every physiological system from the reproductive to the brain. Adolescent growth carries implications for health through the course of life into the next generation. Yet adolescent nutrition has remained invisible in government policies and actions, despite persisting problems related to adolescent nutrition.
The First Paper highlights the role of nutrition in the maturation of major physiological systems in adolescence. It also highlights gaps in knowledge that can arise from focusing on single facets of adolescent growth rather than inter-connections between physiological systems. The Second Paper addresses the drivers of adolescent food choices, including the interactions between adolescent agency and autonomy, cultural contexts, and diverse food environments. The Third Paper examines the actions needed to create healthy adolescent food environments, including the roles that young people themselves may play.
Edward Frongillo, University of South Carolina’s Director Global Health Initiatives, says, “Adolescence is a remarkable period during which nutrition supports the rapid growth, development, and maturation of every physiological system from reproduction to neurocognition, providing a foundation for adult life.”
“The choices that adolescents and young adults make, or are forced to make, about their diets and nutrition will have ramifications for their lives and for that of the planet. Creating a world that supports healthy diets and better nutrition for adolescents and young adults will in turn require concerted actions and accountability from all of society,” says Purnima Menon, Senior Research Fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute.
Director, Knowledge Leadership at Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Lynnette M. Neufeld Evidence says, “This series unequivocally shows the danger of inaction but also that adolescents have a lot to say about why they eat what they eat, and the factors that might motivate them to change. We must include them as active partners in shaping local and global actions that support healthy eating.”