Vast majority of teenagers 'not eating enough vegetables'

·2-min read

Many teenagers aren't eating nearly enough vegetables.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have analysed data relating to students at 16 schools in the U.K., including 942 pupils between the ages of 11 and 15 years.

As part of the study, participants were asked about the food and drinks they had consumed in the past 24 hours.

Accordingly, the researchers found that 70 per cent of adolescents were not consuming the recommended 100g of fruit per day (equivalent to one apple), and 90 per cent were not eating the recommended 200g of vegetables.

Almost three-quarters of pupils consumed more than the daily maximum recommended 31g (about seven teaspoons) of free sugar, and almost a third ate more than the maximum recommended 58g of chicken and processed poultry and potatoes (100g).

"Governments and dietary guidelines need to acknowledge that a third of adolescents in the U.K. (are) overweight or (have) obesity, and consider interventions that focus on transforming food systems, changing food policy and supporting diets that benefit both young people's health and the planet," said Dr Ankita Gupta. "For many young people living in the U.K. and other western countries, eating according to the planetary health diet will entail a major change, and it will take time to change our eating habits.

"Schools are where children spend most of their time, making this a crucial setting for programmes, strategies, and policies that alter the food environment by shaping the choices available and the options they choose. We tend to stick to the dietary habits we develop as children."

Dr Gupta and her colleagues recommended teens abide by the EAT-Lancet planetary health diet, which stipulates daily intakes of different foods, and consists of a lot of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and pulses (peas, beans and lentils), and substantially less meat, sugar and saturated fat compared with current consumption.

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