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Survey of UK Diet, Nutrition & Health

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey

Detailed measurements of diet, nutritional status, physical activity, oral health and lifestyle and socio-demographic characteristics were collected from over 2000 young people aged between 4 and 18 years. This survey is therefore the largest and most detailed ever undertaken on this age group in the UK.

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey – Junk Food – Inadequate Fruit & Vegetables

The most commonly consumed foods are white bread, savoury snacks, chips, biscuits, potatoes and chocolate confectionery. Fizzy soft drinks are the most popular beverage. On average, British children are eating less than half the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. One in five 4-18 years olds ate no fruit at all during the week of the study.

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey – Fat Intake

Specific dietary reference values (DRVs) for fat, starch, sugars and fibre do not exist for this age group. However, using the guidelines for adults as a bench mark, the average intake of total fat is similar to the adult recommendation but the diet is relatively high in saturated fatty acids. The main sources of fat and saturates are cereals and cereal products, mainly cakes, biscuits, buns and pastries. Other important sources include meat and meat products, vegetables, potatoes and savoury snacks and milk and milk products.

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey – Fiber Intake

Average fiber intake is below the adult recommendation, the main sources being vegetables, potatoes, savoury snacks, cereals and cereal products. The consumption of non-milk extrinsic sugars (i.e. defined as those which are not naturally occurring in foods, such as fruit and vegetables or milk) are also high relative to the adult DRV. The main sources are soft drinks, sugars, preserves and confectionery.

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey – Energie, Calorie Intake

The average energy (calorie) intake is below the estimated requirement for each age group. However children are taller and heavier than those in the last national survey, carried out in 1983. This suggests that although low, these energy intakes are unlikely to be inadequate in the context of the existing physical activity patterns.

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey – Alcohol Intake

Alcohol consumption was reported by 60% of 15-18 year olds and 17% of 11-14 year olds. 10% of 15-18 year old girls are vegetarian or vegan and 1 in 6 said they were currently dieting to lose weight.

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey – Vitamins & Minerals

Average intakes of all vitamins are above the recommended nutrient intakes (RNIs), except for vitamin A. In the youngest age group intakes of most minerals are above the RNI. However, in older age groups, intakes of a number of minerals are low including zinc, magnesium and calcium, as well as iron, iodine and copper in the older girls.

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey – Children Inactive

With the exception of the youngest children (4-6 years), children in Britain are largely inactive. About 40% of boys and 60% of girls spend, on average, less than 1 hour a day in activities of at least moderate intensity and therefore fail to meet the Health Education Authority’s recommendation for young people’s participation in physical activity. For boys and girls in the oldest age group (15-18 years) this proportion increases to 56% and 69% respectively. Unless action is taken to improve physical activity in children, the prevalence of obesity will continue to rise.

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey – Blood Pressure

The most inactive children have higher blood pressure. Blood pressure is also higher in boys and girls who add salt at the table and in girls who have salt added to their food during cooking. Amongst boys, blood pressure is higher in those who smoke and drink alcohol.

UK Diet, Nutrition & Health Survey – Regional & Social Differences

The survey demonstrates social and regional inequalities. There is evidence, particularly amongst boys, that children from households receiving benefits have lower energy intake and poorer diet quality (nutrient density) than children from other households. Intakes of most vitamins and minerals tend to be lower in Scotland and, to a lesser extent, in the North of England than elsewhere.

Source: UK National Health Service (2000)

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