Statistics on the health, care and wellbeing of young people in England have been published in a report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
The report ‘Focus on the Health and Care of Young People’ shows that in England, the amount of children getting their five-a-day has increased since 2003.
Jo Nicholas, Head of Research at the Children’s Food Trust, says: “Although the data suggests there has been been an increase in the number of young people who are getting their five-a-day there is still a very long way to go.
“Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet because of the vitamins and minerals they contain.
“When growing children don’t get the nutrients they need at the right time, it can have lifelong effects, increasing the risk of cardiovascular and other adult chronic diseases. A child’s dietary intake is important not only because of the potential health repercussions later in life but also for the immediate impact it can have on their physical and mental health.”
According to the report, the percentage of five to seven year-olds eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day increased from nine per cent to 17% between 2003-2013.The percentage of eight to 10 year olds eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day doubled from 10% to 20% in the same period.
The report also shows that children from deprived backgrounds are more likely to be overweight and obese, and suffer from dental issues caused by poor diet, like tooth decay. Jo Nicholas says: “For children living in poverty, the food they receive at school is hugely important, because for some of them, a school dinner will often be the only hot, nutritious meal they get that day.
“Schools are legally obliged to meet the School Food Standards, which ensure that school meals provide the energy and nutrients children need to grow and develop.
“For example, the standards include the need to provide fruit and vegetables every day, and at least three different fruits and three different vegetables each week in school menus.
“With the introduction of universal infant free school meals last September, more and more children are benefiting.”