With 8 hours of school, 4+ (on average) hours of homework, 2 hours of extracurricular activities, and a supposed (yet rarely attained) 8 hours of sleep every night, high-schoolers have an overwhelming amount of activities to focus on. Because life can get really busy, some things, like a healthy choice in diet, can fall through the cracks.
While writing a 6 page essay that’s due the next day, never having a chance to work on before because your other teachers don’t care if you have other classes and slap on two more hours of homework, a high school student isn’t thinking about if the easy-mac they made for dinner isn’t nutritious enough. The only thing that most students are focused on is getting something in their stomach in order to keep them fueled for the upcoming tasks, which is doing a number on their growing teenage bodies. What they aren’t thinking about is how the food they’re eating can later lead to fatal diseases, such as heart failure, diabetes, and hypertension. An unhealthy diet can also cause depression and anxiety, which can seriously alter the way people perform in school, sports, and other extracurricular activities. But it’s a hard discipline for most to learn to reach for an apple instead of a bag of chips.
Another big factor that creates intense changes on one’s diet is social influence and self-confidence. Over one-half of high school girls and nearly one third of high school boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, vomiting, or taking laxatives. These are the pressures that high school students put on their bodies in order to reach social expectations. Under-eating can lead to extremely dangerous health risks such as heart failure and osteoporosis. Soon, the habits that high schoolers develop in order to fit in could eventually catch up to them in very unhealthy ways.
Another influence on the way high schoolers diet is the activities that they participate in. Many athletes are put on diets for their sports. These diets can either cause the athlete to lose weight or gain it. This kind of dieting is very common in sports like wrestling. These diets can can be incredibly taxing on the athlete’s body, and they can suffer from things like a loss of energy that can ultimately hurt them in other parts of life, like school.
It’s very important that high-schoolers know what diets enable them to be the best they can be in school, sports, and other activities, and it is my hope that each student’s focus will return to a healthy mindset so they may be successful in all areas of their lives.