My name is Lauren Feuerman Leahy. I am graduating this Spring of 2021 with a Masters In Nutrition Education from American University.
The mission of Healthy Teens on Mercer Island is to provide knowledge of healthy eating habits to adolescents of Mercer Island and help them make smart decisions on food choices.
- Healthy Teens will help adolescents learn healthy eating habits
- Healthy Teens will help adolescents understand the consequences of skipping breakfast
- Healthy Teens on Mercer Island will help adolescents understand how fast food and sugar can lead to poor grades
- Healthy Teens will help adolescents become more aware of their own individual eating habits and pitfalls
How will I achieve my mission? My goal is to use motivational interviewing 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 teenagers 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. The strongest risk factor to dieting was the perception of being overweight (Van Vliet, Gustafsson, & Nelson, 2016). Key findings with the CDC show, Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
- In 2013–2016, 37.6% of adolescents aged 16–19 tried to lose weight in the past year. Weight loss attempts were higher among adolescent girls (45.2%) compared with adolescent boys (30.1%).
I picked the audience of teenagers intentionally because they are a forgotten target group with many issues that should be researched. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, (2020) “healthy eating during adolescence is important as body changes during this time affect an individual’s nutritional and dietary needs. Adolescents are becoming more independent and making many food decisions on their own. Many adolescents experience a growth spurt and an increase in appetite and need healthy foods to meet their growth needs.” My actions will use Social Cognitive Theory and our social-ecological model to help show teenagers 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 adolescents 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 all teenagers 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.
Healthy Eating During Adolescence. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/healthy-eating-during- Adolescence
McDow, K., Nguyen, D., Herrick, K. & Akinbami, L (2019) Attempts to Lose Weight Among
Adolescents Aged 16–19 in the United States, 2013-2016, Retrieved from
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