Nutritional Status, Dietary Practices and Physical Activities of Adolescents in Public and Private Schools of Karachi, Pakistan

Parvez I. Paracha*, Shumaila Bakht, Saima I. Paracha, Frank Vriesekoop, Iftikhar Alam, Zia ud Din and Niamat Ullah

Nutritional Status, Dietary Practices and Physical Activities of Adolescents in Public and Private Schools of Karachi, Pakistan.

Skipping breakfast was more common among adolescents being higher in girls than boys. Parents of adolescents belonging to private schools had a higher education and socio-economic status. Private school adolescents were physically more active (p<0.05) in terms of frequency and type of physical activities. The study concludes that the adolescents of private schools had a better nutritional status, consumed food and beverages of better quality and were physically more active. However, boys and girls of both the public and private schools failed to meet the national and international dietary guidelines of recommended food servings.

Adolescence marks a period of transition from childhood to adulthood characterized by rapid
physical growth and development, behavioral, emotional and socio-psychological changes.
Adolescents are more prone to unhealthy behaviors, poor dietary practices and nutritional
compromises, physical inactivity and psychosocial stresses that shape their personalities and lifestyle patterns. Rapid physiological changes affect their body’s nutritional demands while
lifestyles, beliefs and perceptions about body size and shape influence their dietary choices
and practices. The nutrient requirements during adolescence are increased due to accelerated
growth and development, hormonal, physical and behavioral changes and are often not met
due to inappropriate food choices, peer pressure, unhealthy attitudes and lifestyle practices that make adolescents more susceptible to nutritional deficiencies.

Good nutrition is essential for preventing nutritional disorders and averting subsequent incidence of acute and chronic diseases in later life. Failure to consume a nutritionally balanced diet at this decisive point in life not only arrests linear growth but also influences the psychomotor functioning of adolescents. Numerous studies and reports revealed that adolescents are at a greater risk of nutritional deficiencies and disorders due to their rapid body growth, unhealthy eating habits, psychological, mental and emotional pressures associated with body dissatisfaction and temptations to have a slimmer body.

Obes Res Open J. 2016; 3(2): 30-39.doi: 10.17140/OROJ-3-125