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Teenage girls "do not eat enough"

Teenage girls are still missing out on important nutrients and eating too much sugar and fatty food, according to research.

Fewer than one in 10 (7%) of girls aged 11 to 18 eat five portions of fruit or vegetables a day, and only 46% consume the minimum recommendations of iron and magnesium, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found.

Dr Alison Tedstone, FSA head of nutrition science, called this "an area of concern", saying: "Broadly, teenage girls particularly don't eat enough. Overall they are a group of the population whose diets are poor. Young children's diets are generally okay, adults generally a similar picture, adolescents poor. That's been the picture for a number of years."

Government efforts to promote healthy diets appear to have little effect, as teenagers of both sexes continued to eat too much sugar and saturated fat, the FSA said.

Although official recommendations state added sugars should provide no more than 11% of a person's daily energy, boys aged 11 to 18 get 16.3% and girls 15%.

Young boys between four and 10 get 14.4% and girls get 14.7% of their daily energy from added sugars, but children aged between 18 months and three years get a more acceptable 11.2%.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Food Standards Agency

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I feel that it is peer pressure, and a lack of confidence" - Ashlene Rafferty, Northern Ireland

"Unfortunately those poor messages about diet were probably given by teachers, as there is not enough input into the class room by school nurses or health visitors because of cutbacks" - Name and address supplied

"My normal, slim, 8-year-old boy has come home from school so terrified by his teachers about healthy eating, and 'bad' foods, that he is becoming unbelievably fussy about EVERYTHING. A normal, healthy boy now tells me that he can't have bananas because they have 'too much sugar' in them. Cheese has to be Edam or he won't eat it ('too fatty, mummy') and even bread has 'too much carbohydrate'. Yes, there are a FEW overweight children, and I do see the need for health education, and emphasis on exercise, and eating lots of fruit and veg, etc. I'm a Practice Nurse. I help people manage their diets every day. But I think the pendulum has swung way too far when a boy of 8 now wants to read the nutritional information on everything before he'll eat it" - Laura, Leeds