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Why Are Teenagers Always Hungry?

by Kristine Tucker

Parents of teenagers often have trouble keeping their refrigerators and cupboards full of groceries, because teens are hungry all the time. Many eat frequently from morning until night, without overindulging or gaining excess weight. As long as your teenager eats a healthy diet, you shouldn't worry too much about his eating habits. Teens are developing physically and mentally, so they need sufficient calories to support their rapid growth.

Teen Boys

Most teenage boys experience one or more growth spurts during their teen years. As a result, they need sufficient calories to keep up with their growth demands. On average, teen boys 11 to 13 years of age need 1,800 to 2,600 calories a day. Between the ages of 14 to 18, teen boys need between 2,200 and 3,200 calories a day, reports author and nutrition consultant Roberta Duyff in her book "American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide."

Teen Girls

Teen girls often feel hungry because they also need calories to support their growth and development. On average, teen girls experience fewer and shorter growth spurts than teen boys, so their caloric needs are slightly lower. Teenage girls ages 11 to 13 need approximately 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day. On average, teen girls between 14 and 18 need 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day, says Duyff. The exact amount of desired calories usually depends on body size and growth rate.

Physical Activity

Teenagers who have high activity levels tend to experience more hunger pangs and have higher caloric intake demands. Teens involved in strenuous physical activities, such as team or individual sports, karate, skateboarding or physical labor may need as much as 3,500 calories per day, according to Duyff. Many active teens eat large main meals and supplement them with smaller snacks in between meals. As long as your teen's diet includes plenty of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, there's no need to worry about how often their hunger demands.

Lack of Self-Control

Some teens are hungry all the time because they lack self-control and eat because it is fun, tasty and relaxing. Comfort foods, such as chips, cookies and high-fat pre-packaged foods are convenient and enjoyable because they don't require preparation and contain appetizing salts, fats and sugars. Some teenagers get in the bad habit of binge eating -- eating unusually large amounts of food even when they feel full. Teenagers with binge eating problems often feel powerless to stop eating while they're doing it, and feel ashamed afterward, according to KidsHealth.org. Parents can help by establishing eating guidelines, purchasing healthy foods and consulting medical professionals when binge eating becomes routine.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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