Importance of balanced diet and physical activity during and after cancer treatment in adolescent patients
Margaux J Barnes,1 Wendy Demark-Wahnefried2
1Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Abstract: Adolescents diagnosed with cancer are at increased risk for current and future health problems and premature death. As such, it is important to foster the development of health-promoting behaviors that may ameliorate some of this risk. Specific attention has been given to diet and physical activity, as these are behaviors that can be directly controlled and modified by the survivor. Despite the importance of adequate nutrition and physical activity, a large proportion of adolescents with a history of cancer do not meet recommended guidelines for these health behaviors. The current review summarizes the beneficial effects of diet and physical activity in adolescent cancer patients both during and after treatment, evaluates interventions that have been developed to address these behaviors, and provides recommendations for future strategies on how to improve these behaviors in this population. A structured literature review identified ten empirical articles examining diet and/or physical activity interventions in adolescents with a history of cancer. While several interventions aimed at increasing diet and physical activity in this population have been successful, more research is needed to evaluate long-term maintenance of health behaviors, as well as the impact these behavioral changes have on adolescents as they continue into adulthood. Future interventions should incorporate key elements of adolescent development including individualized and specific intervention components and the incorporation of both peer and family support to increase saliency and long-term commitment.
Keywords: oncology, adolescence, health-promoting behaviors
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