5-a-day still a challenge, but children’s sugar consumption drops

5-a-day still a challenge, but children’s sugar consumption drops

British adults and children are still eating less than the recommended intake of five fruit and vegetables a day, although there is a positive trend towards children consuming less sugar, new data reveals.

Public Health England’s UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey – a rolling programme that assesses the diets of 500 adults and 500 children every year and is now in its ninth year – shows little change in the intake of fruit and vegetables in the past nine years.

This is despite continued efforts to encourage greater consumption of fruit and veg from campaigns such as Change4Life.

Encouragingly, fewer children are drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks. In the past year there has been an average reduction of 4% among four-to-10-year-olds and 2% among 11-18-year-olds. When taken over a nine-year period, this level has fallen by 35% among four-to-10-year-olds and 17% among 11-18-year-olds.

Across the whole diet, free sugars intake in children has significantly decreased over time. Free sugars intake dropped by 2.7, 2.4 and 3.5 percentage points over the nine years for children aged 1.5 to three years, four to 10 years and 11 to 18 years respectively.

There was a downward trend in intakes of most vitamins and minerals over the 9-year period for many age/sex groups. This was particularly significant for girls aged 11 to 18 years, whose folate intake dropped and remains below the recommended nutritional intake.