Why Adolescent nutrition is important
Adolescence (defined by the WHO as between age 10 and 19 years) is a time of rapid growth, second only to the first year of life. Children gain up to 50% of their adult weight and skeletal mass and more than 20% of their adult height during their adolescent years. It’s also a time of significant psychosocial development, and the establishing lifelong dietary and lifestyle habits
Adolescence is a unique point in the life cycle, as it is a:
- Biologically-sensitive period: of rapid growth, driven hormonally but needing adequate nutrition (quantity and quality) for optimal growth/development.
- Socially-sensitive period: attitudes and behaviours determining future health and non-communicable disease (NCD) risk are formed and reinforced, with lifelong consequences.
- Culturally-sensitive period: the ‘in limbo’ phase where adolescents are moving from childhood to adulthood can impact access to food at household level and beyond, as well as access to services.
Adolescents face a high burden of morbidity and mortality, yet are often overlooked in policies, programmes and guidelines. More recently, adolescents have been the focus of increased attention through global initiatives including The Lancet commission on adolescent health and wellbeing, inclusion in the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016- 2030), and in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets.
Investments in adolescent health and wellbeing bring a triple dividend of benefit now, into future adult life, and for the next generation of children. We must create the opportunities to meaningfully engage with them in all aspects of their lives
Adolescent Nutrition at ENN
ENN first became involved in this topic in 2017 when we co-hosted a meeting with London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Save the Children, funded by Irish Aid, to discuss any sector needs and gaps. A synthesis paper was prepared as a background document for meeting, giving an overview of the ‘state of play’ and highlight key recent initiatives in the field of adolescent nutrition that set the scene for discussions. Following the meeting, the Adolescent Interest Group (now the ‘GANN’) and a specific adolescent nutrition section was created on en-net our digital global nutrition community forum.
What we do
That every adolescent is nutritionally supported and afforded opportunities for optimal health and nutrition despite any past nutritional challenges
About Global Adolescent Nutrition Network (GANN)
GANN is a new network of researchers, academics, programmers, government representatives, donors, and UN agencies, coordinated by ENN, who hosts quarterly calls. The group currently consists of approximately 110 members.
Though the focus is on nutrition during the adolescent period, we also consider middle childhood (5-9 years) and the school-aged period (5-18 years). The aims of this interest group are to: identify emerging research; share operational experiences; disseminate relevant information; and help ‘bridge’ the disciplines of nutrition and other sectors. Our focus is on policy and practice, through research translation and coordinated advocacy.
The role of GANN members is
- To share updates/information regarding their work on adolescent nutrition.
- To feedback information from various international and national meetings discussing adolescent nutrition
- To identify and bring forward ideas for synergy, linkages and potential collaboration with other technical groups e.g. Technical Advisory Group on metrics for School Age and Adolescent Nutrition (SAAN), and programmes/initiatives, e.g. USAID Advancing Nutrition
About GANN Core group:
There is also a smaller ‘core group’ who work more closely and collaboratively together towards common objectives and a common ‘theory of change’.
Specific objectives of GANN core group includes;
- Work to ensure that evidence gaps on adolescent nutrition are collated, highlighted and are being prioritised by researchers and donors
- Facilitate and support the implementation of research studies, including large scale pilots, that address existing evidence gaps across diverse contexts
- Support international and national normative bodies to create and validate standardised assessment tools for nutrition (anthropometry, diets and micronutrient status) though knowledge management initiative
- Support and align advocacy efforts at national level and international level
- Help find the best ways of engaging young people in programmes, policy and research, and ensure its importance is recognised and actioned by key stakeholders
Our resources on Adolescent Nutrition
At ENN we have and continue to undertake several projects focused on research compilation and evidence generation for the better nutrition of adolescents worldwide.
Recent resources include:
Priority targets and indicators of nutritional status and intervention coverage for children and adolescents (aged 5–19 years).
Webinar Recording: Research Priorities for Nutrition in Adolescence and Middle Childhood.
Improving nutrition during middle childhood and adolescence by 2032: A research roadmap.
Research priorities for nutrition of school-aged children and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries.
Towards standardised and valid anthropometric indicators of nutritional status in middle childhood and adolescence.
Nutritional status of school-age children and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries across seven global regions: a synthesis of scoping reviews
Adolescent nutrition mapping study: A global stakeholder survey of policies, research, interventions and data gaps
Adolescent Interest Group meeting 2017: Synthesis of evidence to date, key gaps and opportunities for adolescent nutrition
Adolescent Interest Group Meeting 2017: Report
Field Exchange 66 - Special Issue: Nutrition of adolescents and school-aged children
Sign up for GANN membership here
Any questions, please get in touch with the team: email@example.com
More like this
Donors: Irish Aid Collaborators: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Save the Children ENN project lead and contact: Emily Mates Timeframe: until end...
Resource: Adolescent nutrition mapping study: A global stakeholder survey of policies, research, interventions and data gaps
Executive summary Nutrition in school-aged children and adolescents can significantly impact lifelong health and wellbeing as well as national economic growth and the health...
Resource: Adolescent Nutrition Meeting Report 2021
Summary The World Health Organization (WHO) defines adolescence as the period between 10 and 19 years of age. During this critical phase of life, adolescents experience rapid...
FEX: Anthropometric assessment of nutritional status in school-aged children and adolescents
View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Natasha Lelijveld Natasha Lelijveld is a senior nutritionist at ENN. She has previously worked in...
FEX: Adolescent nutrition mapping study: A global stakeholder survey of policies, research, interventions and data gaps
View this article as a pdf Summary of research1 Nutrition in school-aged children and adolescents can significantly impact lifelong health and wellbeing as well as the...
FEX: Systems approach to prevent all forms of malnutrition among children 5-19 years
View this article as a pdf By Deepika Sharma and Vilma Tyler Deepika Sharma is a Nutrition Specialist and the focal point for the nutrition of children in school-age and...
NEX: Breaking the cycle of malnutrition: Designing an adolescent programme in Nepal
Lisez cet article en français ici View this article as a pdf Min Raj Gyawali is the Senior Manager for Health Services with the Suaahara II programme in...
FEX: Early is best but it is not always too late. Young Lives evidence on nutrition and growth in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam
View this article as a pdf Summary of report Location: Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam What this article is about: Anthropometric data, taken from 12,000 children across...
FEX: Capturing nutrition data for school-age children and adolescents
View this article as a pdf By Zakari Ali and Natasha Lelijveld Zakari Ali is Higher Scientific Officer at the MRC Unit, The Gambia Unit at the London School of Hygiene and...
FEX: Current evidence on anaemia and micronutrient supplementation strategies in school-age children and adolescents
View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Elena Hemler, Wafaie Fawzi and Stephanie Wrottesley Elena Hemler is senior project coordinator for the...
FEX: Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Adolescent Nutrition
View this article as a pdf This is a summary of the following paper: Canavan, C. & Fawzi, W.W. (2019). Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Adolescent Nutrition: Toward Advancing...
Blog post: Why we still need to prioritise nutrition targets and indicators for children and adolescents
Young Lives longitudinal data has allowed researchers around the world to examine how exposure to poor health and nutrition in early childhood impacts outcomes in later life....
FEX: Adolescent Nutrition Interest Group meeting
A one-day meeting of the Adolescent Nutrition Interest Group (ANIG) was held in London on 12 December 2017. The meeting was co-hosted by Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN),...
FEX: Research priorities for nutrition of school-aged children and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries
View this article as a pdf This is a summary of the following paper: Lelijveld N, Wrottesley S, Aburmishan D et al (2023) Research priorities for nutrition of school-aged...
View this article as a pdf FEX66 Editorial Welcome to the 66th edition of Field Exchange, which we are delighted to announce is a special issue focusing on adolescents and...
FEX: The importance of school feeding programmes, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic
This is a summary of a Field Exchange views article that was included in issue 66. The original article was authored by Maree Bouterakos, Michele Doura, Mutinta Hambayi and...
FEX: Determinants of adolescent nutritional status and practices in Burkina Faso: A pooled secondary analysis
View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Deepali Godha, Maurice Zafimanjaka, Estelle Bambara, Nathalie Likhite and Manisha Tharaney. Deepali...
FEX: Use of anthropometry in school-aged children and adolescents
This is a summary of a Field Exchange research summary that was included in issue 66. The original article was authored by Natasha Lelijveld Natasha Lelijveld is a Senior...
FEX: Adolescent Nutrition: Policy and programming in SUN+ countries
Summary of report1 This summary was prepared by Emily Mates (ENN) who undertook the review as an independent consultant together with Tanya Khara (independent), with the...
FEX: The importance of school feeding programmes to support the nutrition of school-age children, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic
View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Maree Bouterakos, Michele Doura, Mutinta Hambayi and Donald Bundy Maree Bouterakos is Head of...
Reference this page
SH (). Adolescent Nutrition. www.ennonline.net/ourwork/adolescentnutrition