Blog Post – Lauren Leahy – Master of Nutrition Education American University

Smart Teens

 

Educate Teens at Mercer Island High School the Importance of Eating Breakfast and Maintaining Appropriate Calories to Fuel a Healthy Day

Lauren Feuerman Leahy

American University Master of Nutrition Education

 

Goal Statement 

Educate Teens at Mercer Island High School the importance of Eating Breakfast and Maintaining Appropriate Calories to Fuel a Healthy Day.

 

Do Diets Work?

 

Studies have shown that adolescence is a period which healthy or unhealthy eating habits develop. From the research of Van Vilet, Gufstafsson & Nelson (2016) presented in a cross-sectional study with written questionnaires and physical measurements, “dieting to lose weight and skipping breakfast were more common among adolescents than younger boys and girls.” From this research it seems clear that the strongest factor to dieting in both boys and girls was a perception of being overweight and skipping breakfast was associated with a more negative body image (Van Vliet, Gustafsson, & Nelson, 2016). Another key determinant was a higher BMI in boys leads to skipping breakfast (Van Vliet, Gustafsson, & Nelson, 2016). Findings from a NHANES sample indicate that from 2013 – 2016, 37% of adolescents tried to lose weight. Some ways in which adolescents tried to lose weight were skipping meals which made up 16% of the total adolescents polled (McDow, Nguyen, Herrick, & Akinbami, 2019). According to GAIN health or the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, “The overall findings are worrying. Across the globe, adolescents do not eat enough fruits and vegetables and consume too much soda and fast food (Beal, 2019). Unhealthy diets among adolescents, along with low physical activity, are contributing to the coexistence of undernutrition, overweight or obesity and noncommunicable diseases, which can harm adolescents now and in later life as well as the next generation”

 

Struggle

These statistics are concerning to me as a mother of a 16-year-old boy and a 20-year-old girl. We have known that adolescents are very impressionable and take risks that are not always in the best of judgement. Some habits that are unhealthy including fast food consumption and skipping meals are becoming a daily occurrence. According to GAIN health or the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, “The overall findings are worrying. Across the globe, adolescents do not eat enough fruits and vegetables and consume too much soda and fast food (Beal, 2019). Unhealthy diets among adolescents, along with low physical activity, are contributing to the coexistence of undernutrition, overweight or obesity and noncommunicable diseases, which can harm adolescents now and in later life as well as the next generation” (Beal, 2019).

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/303477/HBSC-No.7_factsheet_Diet.pdf%3Fua%3D1

 

 

If you don’t believe me yet, here are some powerful statistics.

Key Data Points: NHANES STUDY http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db340.htm

  • The percentage of adolescents who tried to lose weight in the NHANES study between 2013-2016 increased by year
  • There was no significant difference in percentages of boys and girls who tried to lose weight who were considered obese.
  • Almost ½ of adolescent girls and 1/3 of adolescent boys are trying to lose weight according to the same study
  • Among adolescents who tried to lose weight, most common methods were exercising and drinking a lot of water however 16% skipped meals to lose weight.

 

Say No to Fast Food

 

 

Why Breakfast Matters

 

 

According to recent data, only 62% of adolescent boys who are 15 years of age and 52% of adolescent girls eat breakfast daily.

 

https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/303477/HBSC-No.7_factsheet_Diet.pdf%3Fua%3D1

 

 

 

In addition, 45% of girls who participated in the CDC study between 2013-2016 tried to lose weight in the past year and a staggering 30% of boys tried to lose weight too. We have a large number of young adults trying to lose weight and many of them are not doing it in a healthy and positive manner.

Resolution

The challenge of changing adolescent behavior should not be underestimated. It is a time in most people’s lives where the flow is against their better judgement. The issue with obesity and teenage weight insecurity is real. We are struggling to help them love their bodies and fill themselves with the healthiest foods in the face of poor self-esteem and a lot of fast-food options. We have learned that self-efficacy is critical in change. Feeling empowered and good about oneself and one’s decisions is critical for this age group. My workshops over zoom and motivational counseling will help them put the pieces together and build a plan that they can believe in and have social support for their journey toward a healthier way of life.

How will I achieve my mission? My goal is to use motivational interviewing, a series of zoom workshops and social media to help learn and educate adolescents on Mercer Island as to what they are doing today for meals and snacks and teach them how to create healthier goals.

The target of my nutrition education program is teenage boys from age 15-19 years old. The “what” or nutrition- related behavior I am addressing is poor eating habits such as skipping breakfast and dieting to lose weight.

My program will use Social Cognitive Theory and our social-ecological model to help show teenage boys that their peers and role models all agree that eating healthy is important and fad diets are not healthy. My study will include face to face interviews and peer group learning.

My impact is helping boys feel positive about their bodies despite the social pressure that exists to be thin or muscular. As I mentioned in my outline, socio-cultural environment for boys at these ages is difficult and boys do not express concerns about body image but develop unhealthy eating instead. My goal is to educate them on what healthy eating looks like and make it interactive and fun and the outcome will be they will not skip breakfast and have healthier habits.

Please take a look at my website that is dedicated to my mission…

 

Healthy Teens on Mercer Island is a program designed to provide knowledge of eating habits to enhance the health of teenagers on Mercer Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Adolescent and young adult health. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact sheets/detail/adolescents-health-risks-and-solutions

 

Beal, T., Morris, S. S., & Tumilowicz, A. (2019). Global patterns of adolescent fruit, vegetable, carbonated soft drink, and fast-food consumption: A Meta-Analysis of Global School-Based Student Health Surveys. Food and Nutrition Bulletin,40(4), 444-459. doi:10.1177/0379572119848287

 

Contento, I. R. (2016). Nutrition education: Linking research, theory, and practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

 

Mccreary, D. R., & Sasse, D. K. (2000). An Exploration of the Drive for Muscularity in Adolescent Boys and Girls. Journal of American College Health,48(6), 297-304. doi:10.1080/07448480009596271

 

 

McDow, K., Nguyen, D., Herrick, K. & Akinbami, L (2109) Attempts to Lose Weight Among Adolescents Aged 16–19 in the United States, 2013-2016, Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db340-h.pdf

 

McKenzie, J. F., Neiger, B. L., & Thackeray, R. (2017). Planning, implementing, and evaluating health promotion programs: A primer. San Francisco: Pearson/Benjamin Cummings.

 

Supportive relationships and environment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://extension.umn.edu/food-health-and-nutritionrelationships-and-environment

 

Unhealthy adolescent diets: UNICEF report a wakeup call. (2018.). Retrieved from https://www.gainhealth.org/media/news/unhealthy-adolescent-diets-unicef-report-wake-call.

 

Vliet, J. S., Gustafsson, P. A., & Nelson, N. (2016). Feeling ‘too fat’ rather than being ‘too fat’ increases unhealthy eating habits among adolescents – even in boys. Food & Nutrition Research,60(1), 29530. doi:10.3402/fnr.v60.29530