Teens and Calories
Most nutrition labels are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Some might also contain information for 2,500 calories. But while this is fine for most adults, it doesn’t necessarily encompass the requirements for every teen. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the body demands more calories during early adolescence than at any other time of life. And depending on whether you’re a boy or a girl and on how active you are, you’ll have different nutritional needs.
“Kids who are big and tall or who participate in physical activity will still need increased amounts of energy into late adolescence,” says Mary Story, a registered dietician and Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research program. In addition, during middle and late adolescence, girls eat approximately 25 percent fewer calories per day than boys do. Consequently, they are more likely to be deficient in vitamins and minerals such as calcium and iron, and need to pay closer attention to those percentages on nutrition labels.
Here’s a helpful chart of how many calories you should consume in a day, plus a breakdown of what each section on a nutrition label means. So the next time you’re trying to pick out a healthy snack, make sure to adjust the figures on each nutrition label accordingly by keeping in mind your age, sex, and level of physical activity.
Girls, ages 11-24 - 2,200 calories
Boys, ages 11-14 - 2,500 calories
Boys, ages 15-18 - 3,000 calories
Boys, ages 19-24 - 2,900 calories