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Adolescence is the period between the ages of 10 and 19 years old. It is characterized by a growth spurt as young people transition from childhood to adulthood. It is a period of remarkably rapid growth: up to 45% of skeletal growth, between 15% and 25% of adult height is achieved during adolescence, and up to 37% of total bone mass may be accumulated. Anemia prevalence among adolescent girls 15-19 years ranges from 42% to 47% (TDHS 2010, 2015). The prevalence of overweight and obesity among girls aged 15-19 years has increased from 9% to 11% (TDHS 2010, 2015). Although global efforts to improve children’s nutrition have focused on the first 1000 days, nutritional needs are the greatest during adolescence. For this reason, adolescence is another “window of opportunity” to improve the nutritional status of children. Adolescents account for 19% of Tanzania’s population (NBS, 2018).
USAID/Lishe Endelevu’s adolescent nutrition social and behavior change communication (SBCC) materials and interventions support the following priority behaviors for adolescents:
Eat breakfast every day.
Add a vegetable or fruit, add milk, fish, egg, or another animal source food to your breakfast if you can.
Eat at least one animal-source food (e.g. fish, eggs, milk, dried meat) every day in one of your meals or as a snack.
Add dark green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach, collard greens/kale) to every meal if possible.
Consume other vegetables and fruit every day.
Avoid sweetened beverages (sodas and boxed juices).
Eat smaller meals and frequent snacks, such as staple grains along with specific nutrient-rich foods that are locally available, if nausea or loss of appetite are problems during menstruation.
Lishe Endelevu has developed three main types of SBCC materials support these adolescent nutrition behaviors: (1) Materials that raise AWARENESS about adolescent nutrition and nutrient-rich foods; (2) materials that build KNOWLEDGE about adolescent nutrition and improved nutrition behaviors; and (3) materials that build SKILLS to help adolescents adopt the recommended nutrition behaviors. These materials incorporate the following priority strategies:
Focus messaging on fish, eggs, milk as healthy options for adolescents to keep and prepare for meals for themselves and their families.
Include messaging to help adolescents make pro-nutrition decisions around what to buy with the money they earn from selling eggs.
Link ASF to the aspirations of parents and their adolescent girls for girls to do well in school and to have successful futures. Position nutrient-rich foods as helpful for adolescent girls’ concentration, intelligence, and doing well in school and life.
Include messaging that capitalizes on the social expectation: that, generally, families should eat together and should eat the same foods, and that the “whole family” can benefit from improved nutrition practices at home.
Discourage adolescent girls from relying on transactional sex with boys and men to access ASF and other diverse, nutritious foods, while encouraging girls to instead increase their communication with their mothers and fathers about their nutritional needs.
Encourage parents to talk with their adolescents about their nutrition and six household action areas that smallholder farming families can adopt to improve adolescent nutrition and the nutrition of the whole family.
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