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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Investing in Tomorrow’s Leaders: International Youth Day

By Michael McBurney

Today the United Nations is celebrating International Youth Day. International Youth Day began in 1999. This year the UN is emphasizing the positive contribution young migrants make to their home societies.

There are approximately 22 million young international migrants yearly who often face poverty, crowding and unsanitary living conditions, and difficulty finding decent employment. Because migrant adolescents are in a state of transition, little is known about their nutritional status. Most nationally representative surveys, such as NHANES, are selected using the most current Census data. Although NHANES randomly selects housing units to survey, new immigrants may be missed.

Sanou and colleagues  reported that recent immigrants to Canada are healthier than Canadian born. However, Wang and associates reported that migrant adolescents into Chinese cities were more likely to skip breakfast, to consume street food more frequently, and less likely to eat Western fast food than local adolescents. Only half of adolescents living in homes with their parents report healthy nutrition behaviors. Researchers have often focused on relationships between parent and adolescent characteristics and school nutrition policy.

Nutrition, or malnutrition, is a multi-faceted problem. The challenges facing adolescents as they migrate from one society to another are extraordinary.  Adolescents are our future leaders. They need our support and guidance.


Williams SL, Mummery WK. Associations between adolescent nutrition behaviours and adolescent and parent characteristics. 2012 Nutr & Diet doi:10.1111/j.1747-0080.2012.01581.x

Jensen CD, Sato AF, McMurtry CM, Hart CN, Jelalian E. School nutrition policy: An evaluation of the Rhode Island Healthier Beverages Policy in Schools. 2012 ICAN doi:10.1177/1941406412458314

Sanou D, O’Reilly E, Ngnie-Teta I, Batal M, Mondain N, Andrew C, Newbold BK, Bourgeault IL. Acculturation and nutritional health of immigrants in Canada: A scoping review. 2013 J Immigr Minority Health doi:10.1007/s10903-013-9823-7

Wang L, Zhang Z, Chang Y, Wang X, Hou M, Wei J, Ling W, Zhu H. Comparison of dietary habits between migrant and local adolescents in Shenzhen, China. 2011 Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 20:624-31