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Data presented do not justify pessimistic conclusions
  1. C M WRIGHT
  1. Community Child Health Unit
  2. Donald Court House
  3. 13 Walker Terrace
  4. Gateshead NE8 3EB, UK

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    Editor,—In a recent article, Cavadini and colleagues told us that during the past thirty years the youth in the US have shown a decrease in total energy consumed, as well as the percentage of energy from fat and, particularly, saturated fats.1 So what are the conclusions of the article? That “these trends ... may compromise the health of future US populations”.

    In the discussion section the authors expressed concern about low iron and fibre intakes, despite the fact that both have risen steadily in the past 30 years. Concern is also expressed about falling calcium intake, due to a decrease in consumption of dairy products. US milk intake has always been exceptionally high and, being rich in saturated fat, a reduction is probably desirable. However, the current lower intake still supplies levels of calcium much higher than those for children in other developed countries.

    There seems little doubt that US children are growing fatter, but I am at a loss to see in what way their dietary intake explains this. Presumably the reduction in energy intake is offset by an even greater reduction in activity, but the effect is that, in composition terms, the diet of today's adolescents, though supplying more energy than required for current levels of activity, seems healthier than it has ever been.

    The old fashioned disciplinarian mother used to shout to her children in the next room “whatever you're doing: stop it!”. This seems to be our attitude towards young people as a group. It is sad to see a scientific article falling back onto the accepted paradigm that the youth of today are decadent and unhealthy. Could the authors not have had the imagination to explore the meaning of these results and even suggest that some things might be improving instead of getting worse?

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