To develop this Adolescent Nutrition Resource Bank, an online search for resources from 2015 onward was conducted. In addition, materials were solicited from organizations that signed onto the 2018 Adolescent Nutrition Call to Action. Although youth were not engaged in this process, the Resource Bank features resources on adolescent engagement.
What's in the Resource Bank? What’s not in the Resource Bank? What's different about adolescents?
Every resource in the Resource Bank is described according to the country or region for which it was designed, its target audience (i.e., policymakers, program managers, service providers), the languages in which it is available, its technical areas of focus and program areas. Depending on the content of the resource, the location where the programs and services take place (i.e., health facility, school, other community location) and the adolescents for whom the programs and services are intended is also indicated (i.e., age group, gender, schooling, marital status, and urban/rural residence). The Resource Bank’s tags and categories were created in collaboration with USAID and based on consultations with stakeholders. You can search by keyword, program area, and technical area at the bottom of this website’s landing page and in the right-hand sidebar on all subsequent pages.
The Resource Bank is updated regularly, as new resources, materials, and tools are developed and identified. If you have any relevant resources, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s in the Resource Bank?
The Resource Bank features policy and program examples, guidance, and tools for those who seek to address adolescent nutrition as a standalone endeavor or a component of a broader health or adolescent program.
The Resource Bank currently includes 285 resources.
Developing the Resource Bank has highlighted gaps in adolescent nutrition resources, as indicated in the graphs above. Please consider sharing any resources that you may be aware of to help fill these gaps.
What’s not in the Resource Bank?
Topics such as life skills, income generation, education, and adolescent health (including voluntary family planning and reproductive health care) are the focus of other resource collections and websites and, thus, are not addressed in this Resource Bank. The following is a partial list of websites with resources on these topics:
- Knowledge Success: Youth/Young People Archives
- YouthPower Learning Resources
- UNFPA Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Toolkit for Humanitarian Settings
- WHO Sexual and Reproductive Health
- Act for Youth: Building Healthy Life Skills
- Youth Teach Health
What's different about adolescents?
Adolescence is one of the most rapid phases of human growth and development and the only time after infancy where the rate of physical growth increases. During adolescence, individuals achieve 15‒20 percent of their adult height, up to 60 percent of their skeletal mass, and half of their adult body weight. Adolescence, which is associated with major hormonal, cognitive, and emotional changes, is typically divided into three phases: early (10‒13 years), middle (14‒16 years), and late (17‒19 years). The physical changes that happen during puberty include an increase in height, muscle mass gain, redistribution of body fat, and the development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics.
Adolescence is a time of exploration and experimentation. Changes that occur during adolescence are influenced by internal factors (e.g., disease, undernutrition, overweight/obesity, substance use) and external factors (e.g., family dynamics, social values and norms, responsibilities, relationships, expectations). Developments in the adolescent neural network, which are linked to hormonal shifts, activate changes in the limbic system (which controls pleasure seeking and reward processing, emotional responses and sleep regulation) and the pre-frontal cortex (controlling decision-making, organization, impulse control, and future planning). Hormonal and neural network developments result in psychosocial and emotional changes that lead to enhanced cognitive and intellectual capacities.
Due to their physical growth and development, adolescents need more energy, protein, iron, and other micronutrients. Adolescent girls, for example, have increased iron requirements as a result of growth spurts, sexual maturation, and menstrual losses. Additionally, with adolescence often come changes in critical lifestyle and dietary habits. Adolescents’ increased independence and agency means that they are developing new food choices, eating patterns, and dietary behaviors. Unfortunately, their propensity for experimentation can lead to unhealthy eating habits. Nutrition-related behaviors established during adolescence can have lasting health impacts well into adulthood. All of these issues have important implications for adolescent nutrition policymaking and programming.
For additional information on adolescence as a unique period of physiological, social, and emotional development, see, for example:
- DHS Data on Adolescents Age 15-19. DHS Comparative Report No. 47
- Health for the World’s Adolescents: A Second Chance in the Second Decade
- Nutrition in Adolescents: Physiology, Metabolism, and Nutritional Needs
- The Teen Years Explained: A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development
- WHO: Adolescent Development