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Teenage girls' "poor" diet

Friday July 22nd, 2011

The eating habits of teenage girls in the UK are poor, with just over half getting enough iron in their diet and about half the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables a day.

The Department of Health’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that while both teenage girls and boys are failing to eat their recommended five-a-day portions of fruit and veg, girls fared worse than boys.

Their poor diet is putting them at risk of longer-term health problems, warned Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies.

"It is really important that teenagers eat a balanced diet – including eating five portions of fruit and veg a day,” she said.

“Eating well and being active can help prevent serious illnesses such as cancer and heart disease later in life.”

However, the survey did find younger children’s eating habits are improving because their diet contains fewer sweets, fizzy drinks, chocolate. More are also being fed high-fibre cereals.

But the nation as a whole is still eating too much saturated fat and sugar and only one third of adults are getting their five-a-day.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Our teenage years are an important first opportunity to be responsible for our own food choices, so it's worrying that so many in this age group are still not getting their five-a-day.

“We already know childhood obesity figures increase as youngsters get older so it’s vital that we make sure healthy options that are both appealing and affordable are available to young people.”

The British Heart Foundation’s Food4Thought campaign, which aims to encourage children to increase their physical activity and to eat healthily, will continue over the summer.

Health Minister, Paul Burstow, said: "We want people to know that they can change what they do and make a difference to their health.”

Tags: Diet & Food | Infancy to Adolescence | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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