Nutritional needs during adolescence are increased because of the growth rate and changes in body composition associated to puberty. The dramatic increase in energy and nutrient requirements coincides with other factors that may affect adolescents’ food choices and nutrient intake and thus, nutritional status. These factors, including the quest for independence and acceptance by peers, increased mobility, time spent at school and/or work activities, and preoccupation with self-image, contribute to neglecting meal quality healthy patterns. Adolescent girls in particular, due to their excessive concern with body image and/or obsession with thinness, seem to be more prone to adopt various forms of disordered eating, resulting to the emergence of extreme behaviors. A recent study in a sample of 399 Greek adolescents aged 14.4±3.4 year-old, suggested that 10 % of girls present serious indications/signs of an eating disorder.
On the other hand, eating habits of Greek school-aged adolescents are in the process of changing from more traditional (Mediterranean diet) to more Westernized. For example, the prevalence of breakfast skipping among Greek adolescents is quite high, and is associated with overweight and obesity. Also, the number of meals per day, eating without feeling hungry, eating in rooms other than kitchen in combination with sedentary behaviors and low physical activity are all associated with increased BMI.
Young people are in a transition period and gradually take over the responsibility for their own eating habits. Nutrition education is necessary for a healthy transition and the establishment of healthy eating.