Adolescent Health


The term Adolescence is derived from the Latin term “adolescere” which means “to grow up”. It is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development that occurs between childhood and adulthood. WHO defines “adolescents” as individuals in the 10-19 years age group and “youth” as the 15-24 year age group. When we combine these two groups we get the group of  “young people” covering the age range 10-24 years.

In adolescents, from age 10 to 19 years , a teen’s body undergoes changes drastically. They enter into puberty and experience many changes including physical as well as emotional. The personality and behaviour will also change dramatically. A part of this is due to an awareness of sexuality, which is caused by monthly periods and other physical changes in body, and part is due to an increase in hormones that have an effect on mood.

In girls, sexual development starts between the ages of 8 and 13, and have a growth spurt between the ages of 10 and 14. In boys, sexual development starts between the ages of 10 and 13, and continue to grow until they’re around 16.

Changes in Girls during adolescence-

·        There is an increase in the rate of growth of height.

·        The size of uterus and vagina increases.

·        There is an increase in the size of breast.

·        Pubic hair begins to appear, usually within 6 to 12 months after the start of breast development.

The rate of growth in height reaches its peak in about 2 years after puberty. Once girls start to menstruate, they usually grow about 1 or 2 more inches, reaching their final adult height by about age 14 or 15 years (younger or older depending on when puberty began).

Common problems during Adolescence

1. Pubertal issues:

·        Adolescent Growth and Development

·        Pubertal delay or precocity

·        Weight and height issues

2. Sexual and reproductive Health:

·        Gynecological and Menstrual Problems

·        Contraception

·        Pregnancy testing and option

·        MTP

·        STD/HIV Screening counseling and treatment

·        Sexual & Reproductive health education

3. Pscycho-social issues:

·        Relationship Development 

·        Adjustment problems

·        Growing-up issues

4. Nutrition issues:

·        Healthy eating during Adolescence 

·        Anemia prevention and management 

·        Under nutrition and obesity

·        Eating Disorders (Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa, Binge Disorder) 

5. Immunization 

·        Cervical cancer prevention- HPV vaccine

6. Preventive health check ups, like, annual check-up, pre-college health check-up, pre-marital counselling etc.

7. Adolescent Mental Health 

·        Psychiatric disorders: Depression, Anxiety, bipolar, personality disorder

·        Substance abuse including tobacco and alcohol


Healthy eating habits in Adolescents:

Healthy diet can help teenager to look good and stay healthy:

Eating breakfast: Skipping breakfast does not help in losing weight.  A healthy breakfast is an important part of a balanced diet and provides some of the vitamins and minerals required for good health.

Aim to eat fruits and vegetables a day: Fruits and vegetables are sources of most of the vitamins and minerals which is essential for the body. Fresh fruit juice, smoothies and vegetables can help in balanced diet.

At snack time, substitute foods that are high in saturated fat or sugars for healthier choices: Foods high in added sugars include cakes and pastries, sweets, and chocolate. Too much saturated fat can also cause high cholesterol.

Drink enough fluids: One should aim to drink at least six to eight glasses of fluids a day, water, unsweetened fruit juices (diluted with water) and milk are all healthy choices.

Eating healthy food: Foods such as  whole meal bread, beans, wholegrain breakfast cereals, fruit and vegetables. Such kind of foods are high in fibre are bulky and help us feel full for longer time.

Being Underweight: Not eating a balanced diet or restricting food intake can lead to deficiency of important nutrients in the body. This can lead to weight loss. Being underweight can cause health problems, so if you’re underweight it’s important to gain weight but in a healthy way.

Being Overweight:  Foods rich in fat and sugar are high in calories, or eating too many calories can lead to weight gain. Try to eat lesser foods that are high in fat and sugar, such as swapping to low or no sugar fizzy drinks. A healthy balanced diet will provide you with all the nutrients your body needs.