Data were collected on the seven day weighed food intakes of 65 schoolchildren, aged 12-13 years, living in an inner city, socially deprived area in east London. Blood samples were collected during the week and analysed for cholesterol, serum ferritin, vitamins A, E, B-12, beta carotene, and folic acid. Boys generally fared better than girls with almost a quarter of the girls having intakes of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin A, and riboflavin less than the lower reference nutrient intake, an amount which, by definition, is enough for only the few people in a group who have low needs. Although the mean energy intake was close to the estimated average requirement for both boys and girls, 74% did not meet the recommended intake for fibre and a high proportion of children consumed more than 11% of their energy from saturated fat (85%) and added sugar (88%). Thirty seven per cent of the children ate no fresh fruit during the week they kept a diary and only 19% had vegetables (fresh or frozen), other than potatoes, on a daily basis. Their main sources of energy were chips, bread, and confectionery. No association was found between fat intakes and plasma cholesterol concentrations. Girls had significantly lower blood concentrations of folic acid, ferritin, and beta carotene. The findings of this study confirm the anxieties often expressed that many schoolchildren, particularly in less affluent areas, are eating diets which are unhealthy according to government recommendations.
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