by Chris Hudson

It’s official: ravenous teenage boys are ‘normal’

Man eating a sandwich with violent

Just to add to my growing collection of “research that confirms the obvious” posts, I submit this study that confirms – teenage boys eat a lot – even more than girls.

I am sure this isn’t anything new to parents of teenage boys who are still trying to adjust to their lower standard of living due to the daily food bill approaching parity with the mortgage repayments. If you were starting to wonder if your ravenous teen was some freak of nature, wonder no more. The science confirms that teenage boys eat a lot of food.

In a study published in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition researchers from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that teenage boys if given the opportunity will consume a lunch containing over 2000 calories. To put that in perspective, an average adult male’s daily calorie intake is meant to be approx 2500 calories, while the average 9-year-old’s requirement  is approximately 1800 calories per day.

The study found that boys’ appetites peak in mid to late adolescence. Their calorie needs increase significantly in late puberty, or between the ages of 14 and 17, which coincides with their growth spurt. I can distinctly remember that time of life when I could come home from school eat nearly a loaf of bread and peanut butter and still be hungry 2 hours later at dinner – all without getting fat. Oh that those days would return!

Girls’ appetites tend to peak from early to mid puberty as girls tend to have their most significant growth spurts at this time. The girl’s big lunch maxed out at around the 1300 calorie mark.

Researcher Dr. Jack A. Yanovski said “There’s a lot of folk wisdom that says boys can eat prodigious amounts, but we haven’t had much data.”  Obviously they haven’t been monitoring family food bills over any length of time.

Yanovski also noted that as long as teenage boys are healthy and normal weight, a sudden surge in eating should not be alarming for parents. So parents, next time you go the fridge an hour after grocery shopping and find it is empty (except the vegetable crisper) don’t be alarmed, it’s perfectly normal. You might be hungry, but you don’t need to be alarmed.

Healthy boys who are growing should be allowed to eat as much as they want. Of course, if they have a weight problem then limits do need to be imposed. The more active they are, the more they will be able to eat also. If your boy is an Olympic swimmer he may need up to 12,000 calories a day like champion swimmer Michael Phelps.

As for those of us over 30, well I’m going out to run off my 2 pieces of chocolate now.

Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Chris Hudson is a youth expert, parenting coach and editor of Understanding Teenagers. This article is about

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