Adolescent Nutrition: A Descriptive Study of Students at Meridian Academy

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

William Parrett


Del Siegle


Elaine M. Long


This study analyzes the diets of 30 students at Meridian Academy Alternative High School. The students completed a diet history and a 3-day food record. The diets were examined for major nutrient categories. The data was then compared to the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), the 1995 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), and the 1989 Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA). Dietary excesses of fat and sodium as described in other studies were found in the diets of Meridian Academy students. Meridian Academy students consumed an average of 2.2 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, compared to the recommended 5 servings per day. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and fiber, all of which were lacking in the diets analyzed. Meridian Academy students had iron intakes 10% lower than the NHANES III. Female students had low intakes of calcium. Meridian Academy students’ diets averaged 35.2% of total calories from fat compared with 34% of total calories from fat in NHANES III. Finally, when compared to the YRBSS a higher percentage of Meridian Academy students perceived themselves as overweight. The results of this study add to the research which describes adolescents’ diets as inadequate. This unhealthy diet could predispose them to health problems now and later in life.

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