A healthful diet helps to reduce risk for common health problems among adolescents and young adults such as hypertension and obesity. Further, consuming a nutrient-dense diet is critical to support the rapid physical growth that characterizes adolescence. Eating behaviors established during these early years often influence diet later in adulthood, and thus may have an impact on long-term health.
Despite the importance of good nutrition, surveillance data indicate most youth do not achieve dietary recommendations. There is a great need for nutrition interventions to address the gaps between current behaviors and recommendations. This issue describes three examples of research conducted to inform such interventions:

  • Adams and Bahr examined fruit and vegetable intake in college students and describe the demographic characteristics and other health behaviors of students with poor intake.
  • Dart and Couch evaluated an intervention designed to improve intakes of fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods in adolescents with hypertension.
  • Kasparek followed nearly 200 students for six months and examined the influence of diet and other lifestyle behaviors on weight change during the transition to college.

The importance of intervening early to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors in youth is evident. These three studies illustrate the various types of research that must be completed to better understand what groups are in greatest need of interventions and what strategies may be most successful.

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