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The UK’s girls eat only half their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables, research finds

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Summary of story from The Guardian, July 22, 2011

Doctors in the UK have voiced fears about teenagers’ health after new government research showed that many children’s diets contain too much saturated fat and not enough fruit, vegetables and iron.

And girls’ eating habits have emerged as a particular concern.

Girls aged 11 to 18 consume on average only 2.7 of the recommended five portions a day of fruit and vegetables, with just 5 per cent eating what official guidelines say are needed for good health.

Boys the same age eat too little as well, with an average of 3.1 portions a day, and just 13 per cent eating the full five a day.

Teenage girls are meant to consume 8mg a day of iron, but 44 per cent do not do so, according to findings from the annual National Diet and Nutrition Surveys for 2008/09 and 2009/10.

That suggests that they are eating too little bread, cereals, meat, meat products, fish, eggs and nuts.

The results prompted the Department of Health to warn that children’s “poor eating habits risk storing up a number of potential problems for later life, such as heart disease and some cancers”.

The survey also showed that children of all age groups continue to consume more than the recommended amount of saturated fats.

Adults typically get 12.8 per cent of their food energy from these, but should not exceed 11 per cent.

It is the same with sugar: intake of non-milk extrinsic sugars – sugars that have been added to food or released during processing – provides more than the recommended 11 per cent of food energy in 19 to 64-year-olds and children aged four and over.

  1. So from that list, are teenage girls living on chips and Coke? It’s a shame food is such a political thing – women are all told not to eat too much, not to eat the wrong things (a list that changes daily), to eat only the right things… no wonder our diets are not the best.

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