Global and regional trends in the nutritional status of young people: a critical and neglected age group

Akseer N, et al.


Early adolescence (10-15) towards the end of the school-age years and late adolescence (15-24 years of age) or emerging adulthood are critical time periods for achieving optimal and long-term health and nutrition. This paper reviews the published literature and global data repositories for information on nutrition levels, trends, and patterns among young people aged 10–24 years available (1990 through 2016) and describes patterns for both males and females at the global level and for geographic regions. The results of this study document the dual burdens of underweight and high body-mass index in many countries and variable improvements in micronutrient deficiencies across geographical regions. Poor diet diversity and lack of nutrient-dense food, high risk for metabolic syndrome, and sedentary lifestyles remain a global problem in this population. The paper highlights that (similar to the lack of data for middle childhood, 5-10 years of age), there is a need for objective, comparable, and high-quality data for children in this part of the life cycle. Realising the critical role of young people and investing in their nutrition is essential to reaching sustainable development goals and improving the overall health and well-being of all populations.

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