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  1. HARVEY MARCOVITCH, Editor in Chief

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Arch Dis Child 2000 Volume 83 No 1

Of couch potatoes and sofa fries

Paediatricians need only use their eyes to learn that youngsters are getting larger. But they may not be aware of other phenomena of malnutrition, which is why this month we publish a major study of US adolescents spanning over 30 years (page 18).

Surprisingly, energy intake fell over the years, although the authors are unsure whether this is a methodological artefact or a reflection of decreased energy expenditure. There was a big fall in the proportion of energy provided from fat and protein but a nearly 17% rise in the proportion provided by carbohydrate. By 1996 only 40% of girls met the recommended dietary intake for iron and only 20% for calcium.

The authors, from Nestlé Research and the University of North Carolina, were able to define what has happened in some detail: the increasing availability of other dairy products did not compensate for the fall in milk drinking; grains increased, but largely in high fat mixtures like pizza, macaroni cheese, and what the authors coyly term “certain ethnic foods”. Teenagers eat less fruit and drink more fruit …

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