Rights: University of Waikato Published 18 March 2011 Download

In this video clip, Carolyn Cairncross, a nutritionist with the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation, describes some of the key components that should be included in the adolescent diet. She also provides advice on healthy eating practices such as eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, keeping the body in a well hydrated state, not skipping meals and avoiding energy drinks high in caffeine.


Adolescents require more food than a standard adult because they are growing, and so they need energy to support that growth. The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation recommends that adolescents eat some particular foods over and above what they normally suggest.

We recommend at least three serves of low fat dairy each day, and that is to build up their calcium, because that is the time that your bones are being built for adulthood. Also include lots of fruit and vegetables so that 5+ a day serves or even more, especially those that are active.

Adolescents need more protein but they don’t need to have any specific foods because they will be eating much more. Milk contains protein as well, so they don’t actually need anything extra, but that protein will help meet their increased requirements.

It’s really important that teenagers drink lots of fluids, especially if they are at school. They are concentrating, and the fluid helps them retain and process information.

Teenagers need to be careful of the amount of soft drinks and energy drinks that they have. They just contain sugar, which is empty calories, and the energy drinks contain caffeine, and sometimes that is in high quantities. Adolescents’ bodies aren’t as mature as adult bodies and can’t process the caffeine as well, so we recommend that staying away from energy drinks and energy shots while you are growing.

The other important thing for teenagers is not to skip meals and make sure that you have breakfast, because that will help you concentrate at school and also for any sports that you are doing – help provide energy.

Ministry of Education
McAuley High School