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Nutrition and the Health of Young People

Benefits of Healthy Eating


Healthy eating contributes to overall healthy growth and development, including healthy bones, skin, and energy levels; and a lowered risk of dental caries, eating disorders, constipation, malnutrition, and iron deficiency anemia.1

Diet and Disease

bulletEarly indicators of atherosclerosis, the most common cause of heart disease, begin as early as childhood and adolescence. Atherosclerosis is related to high blood cholesterol levels, which are associated with poor dietary habits.2
bulletOsteoporosis, a disease where bones become fragile and can break easily, is associated with inadequate intake of calcium.3
bulletType 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult onset diabetes, has become increasingly prevalent among children and adolescents as rates of overweight and obesity rise.4 A CDC study estimated that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.5
bulletOverweight and obesity, influenced by poor diet and inactivity, are significantly associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, joint problems, and poor health status.6

Obesity Among Youth


The prevalence of overweight among children aged 6-11 years has more than doubled in the past 20 years and among adolescents aged 12-19 has more than tripled.7,8


Overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become overweight or obese adults;9 one study showed that children who became obese by age 8 were more severely obese as adults.10

Eating Behaviors of Young People

bulletLess than 40% of children and adolescents in the United States meet the U.S. dietary guidelines for saturated fat.11
bulletEighty percent of high school students do not eat fruits and vegetables 5 or more times per day.12
bulletOnly 39% of children ages 2-17 meet the USDA’s dietary recommendation for fiber (found primarily in dried beans and peas, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains).13
bulletEighty-five percent of adolescent females do not consume enough calcium.3 During the last 25 years, consumption of milk, the largest source of calcium, has decreased 36% among adolescent females.14 Additionally, from 1978 to 1998, average daily soft drink consumption almost doubled among adolescent females, increasing from 6 ounces to 11 ounces, and almost tripled among adolescent males, from 7 ounces to 19 ounces.11, 15
bulletA large number of high school students use unhealthy methods to lose or maintain weight. A nationwide survey found that during the 30 days preceding the survey, 12.3% of students went without eating for 24 hours or more; 4.5% had vomited or taken laxatives in order to lose weight; and 6.3% had taken diet pills, powders, or liquids without a doctor's advice.12

Diet and Academic Performance


Research suggests that not having breakfast can affect children's intellectual performance.16


The percentage of young people who eat breakfast decreases with age; while 92% of children ages 6–11 eat breakfast, only 77% of adolescents ages 12–19 eat breakfast.11


Hunger and food insufficiency in children are associated with poor behavioral and academic functioning.17,18


The Diabetic Fat Spiral

By: Kristine Mcdaniel

So how can anyone be certain about anything? The answer is simple. You can't be certain. When you encounter someone that tells you they know the answer to life's questions, absolutely, for certain -- RUN! They're taking the lazy path. They're not certain -- they have just stopped asking questions and are now expecting you to do likewise.

Look at these responses, quoted from some of the world's great thinkers regarding the issue of certainty:

"Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." - Benjamin Franklin

"The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers." - Erich Fromm

"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd." - Voltaire

"What men really want is not knowledge but certainty." - Bertrand Russell

"Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear." - William Congreve

One of the most unfortunate consequences of certainty is that it leads to the soft insulation of belief. Yes, for a spiritual person there are things in life which should not simply be taken by faith and be believed without question. God made us with inquisitive minds and intended for us to use them. When we do not question and we become certain about everything, I believe we in fact disappoint God. I believe faith and belief are for trusting in God, not for being lazy with our minds.

If we allow our minds to soften into pudding by allowing belief and faith to intrude into areas never intended to be handled by faith and belief, we become certain something is true and must therefore protect that conclusion from falsification. For example, articles of faith such as the exact method used by God to perform the Creation are viewed by us as something we must protect from falsification, and we therefore attempt to disprove well-grounded scientific theories such as Evolution. Starting with the conclusion, then proclaiming to be false anything that calls our conclusion into question is NOT how scientific discoveries are made.

I believe that faith and reason are not in conflict, and where the question of Creation and Evolution are involved, I believe God respects those who can say that we believe God created the earth, and that science proved life evolves over time. I believe in my heart both things can be true and there is no conflict. I do not need to see proof of the Creation to know it is true. For me, proof is for science, not for the realm of the divine. My proof of God is in my heart. I need no further proof of God.

I believe God wants us to explore, to study, to question the things we see around us. God is strong and powerful and he can take a few 'Why' questions from his questions just like we can handle them from our 3-year-old grandchildren. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Questions are the beginning of understanding. Certainty is the end of it.