UK Study Suggests Adolescents’ Diet Quality is Neither Healthy nor Sustainable

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.

New research being presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Maastricht, Netherlands (4-7 May), suggests secondary school pupils across the West Midlands region of the UK are not eating a healthy, sustainable diet. The study is by Dr. Ankita Gupta and colleagues from the University of Birmingham, UK.

In 2019, The EAT-Lancet Commission called for a broad dietary change that would take into account both human and planetary health to ensure that future food systems can sustainably and nutritiously feed the estimated population of 10 billion people in 2050. The EAT-Lancet planetary health diet 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.

For the current study, researchers set out to compare the diets of adolescents who participated in the Birmingham Food provision, cUlture and Environment in secondary schooLs (FUEL) study—that is examining the national School Food Standards and related national policy in secondary schools across the West Midlands—with the EAT-Lancet planetary health diet. They analyzed cross-sectional data from 16 schools including 942 pupils between the ages of 11 and 15 years, collected as part of the FUEL study.

The researchers found that the average consumption of free sugar (that includes table sugar, the sugar added to food and drinks, and found naturally in fruit juices, syrups, and honey), potatoes, red meat (beef, lamb, pork), and chicken and other poultry, exceeded the daily intake recommended by the EAT-Lancet diet.

Almost three-quarters (73%) of pupils consumed more than the daily maximum recommended 31g (about seven teaspoons) of free sugar, and almost a third (31%) ate more than the maximum recommended 58g of chicken and processed poultry (equivalent to four McDonald’s chicken nuggets) and potatoes (100g).

In addition, the average intake of fruit, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, legumes, and fish fell below the recommended intake, with 70% of adolescents not consuming the recommended 100g of fruit per day (equivalent to one apple), and over 90% not eating the recommended 200g of vegetables.

Source: MedicalXpress

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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