Young people and teens

Young people and teens

Adolescence is a critical time for growth and development. Good nutrition is essential during this time, as the need for many nutrients including energy, protein, vitamins and minerals increases.

Australian Dietary Guidelines

Guideline 1

To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs.

  • Children and adolescents should eat sufficient nutritious foods to grow and develop normally. They should be physically active every day and their growth should be checked regularly.

Guideline 2

Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day:

  • Plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
  • Fruit
  • Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under the age of two years).

And drink plenty of water.

Guideline 3

Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol

  1. Limit intake of foods high in saturated fat such as many biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other savoury snacks.
    • Replace high fat foods which contain predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado.
    • Low fat diets are not suitable for children under the age of two years.
    • Read labels to choose lower sodium options among similar foods.
    • Do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the table.
  2. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added salt.
  3. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks.
  4. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake. For women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

Please note: For children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

Guideline 4

Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.

Guideline 5

Care for your food; prepare and store it safely.

Body image

Body image is the perception you have of your physical self, and the thoughts and feelings you experience as a result of that perception. In other words, it's the mental picture you have of your body, and how you think and feel about your body because of that picture. People with negative body image may not care for themselves as well as others, especially with what they eat and drink, how much exercise they do, and how much they participate in school activities. Young people have consistently identified body image as an area of personal concern. To help you manage issues around negative body image visit:

September 2016