"...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:
Young People in Britain aged 4 years to 18 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 7-day weighed dietary intake record of all food and drink, including nutritional supplements and alcohol consumed both in and out of the home
  • urine and blood samples for assessment of micronutrient status
  • a record of physical activity, anthropometric measures and blood pressure

Over 2,600 addresses were contacted, 1,701 children completed the dietary record and 1,193 provided a blood sample.

Main Findings

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

  • Dietary protein intake was low to borderline in approximately 5% of those surveyed
  • Approximately 5% of children aged 4 to 11 years had a BMI  < 15.0 kg/m2
  • 5% to 10% of 14 to 18 year olds have a BMI > 30.0 kg/m2
  • Males aged 15 to 18 years ate less fruit and more sugar than 11 to 14 year old males
  • Anaemia was found in 9% of females aged 15 to 18 years and 5% of all children aged 4 to 6 years
  • Iron deficiency, as defined by a serum ferritin level < 12.0 ug/l was found in 5% of males and over 10% of all females
  • Amongst 15 to 18 year olds deficiency of vitamin B12 (serum vitamin B12 < 118 pmol/l) was observed in 8% of females and 1% of males.  Otherwise subnormal values were rare
  • A reduced red cell folate > 350 nmol/l was observed in 7% of boys and 9% of girls
  • Mild vitamin D deficiency (plasma vitamin D 25-49 nmol/l) was seen in up to 16% of the subgroups and was most likely in teenagers in winter and spring
  • Calcium intakes were below the LRNI in approximately 5% of boys and 13% of girls
  • Zinc intakes were below the LRNI in approximately 9% of boys and 20% of girls
  • Socio-economic deprivation at all ages and alcohol consumption in teenagers were risk factors for dietary inadequacy of many nutrients.

Reference:

  1. Gregory J, Lowe S, Bates, CJ, Prentice A, Jackson LV, Smithers G, Wenlock R, Farron M.  National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4 to 18 years. Volume I: Report of the diet and nutrition survey. London. The Stationery Office, 2000.


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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