"...all doctors should be able to diagnose and treat nutritional deficiencies."

Royal College of Physicians. Nutrition and Patients: A Doctor's Responsibility. London 2002

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National Diet and Nutrition Survey:
British Children aged one and a half years to four and a half years

Methodology

The survey collected information from volunteers whose addresses were identified randomly and thus in-patients and those in institutional care were excluded.  The following information was collected from participants:

  • a 4-day weighed dietary intake record of all food, drink and nutritional supplements consumed both in and out of the home
  • a blood sample for assessment of micronutrient status 
  • anthropometric data: height, weight, mid-arm circumference and head circumference

Over 2,000 eligible addresses were contacted, 1,675 children completed the dietary record and 1,102 provided a blood sample.

Main Findings

The report breaks the findings down into three age-dependent sub-groups and total percentages or ranges for the groups are presented:

  • Energy intake was 17% lower and protein intake 10% lower than a similar survey conducted 25 years earlier
  • Anaemia was found in 7% of all infants and was more common in younger age groups and girls
  • Inadequate iron intake was seen in 20% of infants and a similar number had biochemical evidence of deficiency
  • A low intake of vitamin A was observed in 8% of infants and in 12% plasma retinol was below 0.75umol/l half of which might have been due to the transitory effect of a current infection on retinol levels.  The lower end of normal as defined by the World Health Organisation is 0.7 umol/l and vitamin A deficiency is severe if the blood level is below 0.35 umol/l which was not found in any participant.
  • Deficiencies of vitamins B12 and folate were rare but there was biochemical evidence of vitamin B2 – riboflavin deficiency in 23% of infants
  • Marked deficiency of vitamin D (<25.0 nmol/l)) was observed in 1% of infants but a further 18% had marginal levels (25-49 nmol/l)
  • Despite the recommendation that all infants up to the age of 2 years take supplemental vitamin D less than 20% did
  • Intakes of essential fatty acids were of some concern as only 16% of infants consumed oily fish during the survey period.

Reference

  • Gregory JR, Collins DL, Davies PSW, Hughes JM, Clarke PC.  National Diet and Nutrition Survey: children aged 1.5 - 4.5 years.  Volume I: report of the diet and nutrition survey. London: HMSO, 1995.


Copyright Dr. Alan Stewart M.B.B.S.M.R.C.P. (UK)M.F. Hom.
47 Priory Street, Lewes, East Sussex. BN7 1HJ
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