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Diet adequacy in UK schoolchildren

C.H.S. Ruxton (Nutrition Communications, Cupar, UK)
E. Derbyshire (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 8 February 2011




There is a strong interest in the quality of children's diets as this can impact on current and future health. The aim of this paper is to review current and past literature on UK children's diets to evaluate the adequacy of nutrient intakes in comparison with recommendations, and to identify population groups that may be at particular risk of nutritional deficiencies.


A literature review was carried out to locate and summarise up‐to‐date published studies and reports which addressed dietary intakes of UK children, trends overtime and current dietary issues.


Although UK children's diets appear to have improved in recent years, intakes of several key nutrients remain below dietary recommendations. Iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc are especially low in some groups, whilst intakes of saturated fat and sugar exceed current targets. Thus, further improvements are needed. In the meantime, parents may consider giving children a daily multi‐vitamin to ensure that micronutrient recommendations are achieved. The lack of child‐specific targets for fibre, long‐chain omega‐3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn3PUFA), vitamin D and fruit and vegetables portions makes it difficult to properly evaluate children's diets for these important dietary components.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies should use consistent age ranges and methods of dietary assessment to enable better comparisons. Research is needed to underpin child‐specific dietary guidelines for LCn3PUFA, fibre and vitamin D.


This paper gives a concise, up‐to‐date overview of the current diet quality of UK children.



Ruxton, C.H.S. and Derbyshire, E. (2011), "Diet adequacy in UK schoolchildren", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 20-33.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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