Teenagers need lots of energy and nutrients because they're still growing. The amount of energy that food and drink contains is measured in kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal), commonly just referred to as calories.
A report from 2011 estimated the average energy requirements for children aged 13 to 18 to be:
|13||10,100kJ or 2,414kcal||9,300kJ or 2,223kcal|
|14||11,000kJ or 2,629kcal||9,800kJ or 2,342kcal|
|15||11,800kJ or 2,820kcal||10,000kJ or 2,390kcal|
|16||12,400kJ or 2,964kcal||10,100kJ or 2,414kcal|
|17||12,900kJ or 3,083kcal||10,300kJ or 2,462kcal|
|18||13,200kJ or 3,155kcal||10,300kJ or 2,462kcal|
However, these figures are only a guide. Young people might need more or less energy depending on a number of factors, including how physically active they are.
While the amount of energy teenagers need is important, they should also eat a healthy, balanced diet.
A healthy, balanced diet for teenagers should include:
- at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- meals based on starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, pasta and rice – choose wholegrain varieties when possible
- some milk and dairy products or alternatives – choose low-fat options where you can
- some foods that are good sources of protein – such as meat, fish, eggs, beans and lentils
Teenagers should not fill up on too many sugary or fatty foods – such as crisps, sweets, cakes, biscuits – or sugary fizzy drinks. These tend to be high in calories but contain few nutrients. Get ideas for healthy food swaps and healthier takeaways.
Read the answers to more questions about food and diet.
Page last reviewed: 3 August 2021
Next review due: 3 August 2024