Skip to main content


Pieces Missing from “The Plates” of Adolescent Diets

Jan 06, 2014 12:55PM ● By Med Editor

The New Year is here and we are well into the 2nd year of USDA’s MyPlate.  This brings a good question to mind: what’s really on your plate?  Are you getting the recommended servings of fruits, veggies, grains, dairy and protein each day? Is your family? Are your friends?

Like most Americans, we struggle from time to time getting our plate just right, but many were surprised to learn that a 10-year study published in the journal Nutrients found that adolescent girls did not consume the recommended amounts of fruit, vegetables and dairy, and that three out of four consumed less than the recommended amounts in the Protein Foods group.  Even more surprising is more than 90 percent of adolescent girls surveyed consumed about five times the recommended maximum intakes of solid fat and added sugars.1

Unfortunately, many adolescent girls shy away from protein for fear of weight gain.  It’s important for healthcare professionals to help them realize that high-quality protein plays an important role in overall health, including weight control, by increasing satiety and helping build and maintains muscle mass.2  Because protein is one of the most satiating nutrients, eating a protein-rich meal or snack can help them feel full longer, to help reduce snacking on empty calories.3-4

Did you know beef is a unique protein which provides essential nutrients critical to healthy brain development and function?  Research shows the iron, zinc and B vitamins found in beef play an essential role in developing and maintaining cognitive ability in children across the lifecycle.5-8

Help adolescent girls get the nutrients they need by encouraging the pairing of fruits and vegetables with lean protein and dairy. Lean beef, with its 10 essential nutrients, is a perfect partner for fruits, vegetables and whole grains to nourish growing bodies and minds.9     

To access the study, go to:  To learn more about lean beef’s nutritional benefits, please visit

1.        Moore LL, Singer MR, Qureshi MM, Bradlee ML, Daniels SR. Food Group Intake and Micronutrient Adequacy in Adolescent Girls. Nutrients 2012; 4:1692-708.

2.     Wolfe, R. The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2006; 84:475-82.

3.     Paddon-Jones D, et al. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:1558S-61S.

4.     Westerterp-Plantenga MS, et al. Dietary protein, metabolism, and body-weight regulation: dose–response effects. Int J Obes 2006;30:S16-S23.

5.     Beard JL. Iron biology in immune function, muscle metabolism and neuronal functioning. J Nutr 2001; 131:568S-80S.

6.     Fuglestad AJ, Rao R, Georgieff MK. The role of nutrition in cognitive development. 2nd. ed. In: Nelson CA, ed., Luciana M, ed. Handbook in developmental cognitive neuroscience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008:623-41.

7.     Black MM. Micronutrient deficiencies and cognitive functioning. J Nutr 2003;133: 3927s-31s.

8.     Benton D. The influence of dietary status on the cognitive performance of children. Mol Nutr Food Res 2010;54:457–70.

9.        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2013. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26. Available at: