A new study of teenage eating habits has revealed that one in three Irish young people do not eat any fruit, while over 50% eat too much fat.
The study involved 450 young people, aged 13-17, from secondary schools throughout Ireland.
It revealed a number of worrying trends in relation to the types of food being consumed. Overall, the participants were found to be eating too much fat, too much salt and not enough fruit, vegetables and fibre.
With fruit and vegetables, consumption was well below international recommendations, with one in three teenagers eating no fruit whatsoever.
A further four out of five were not consuming enough fibre.
However over 50% were eating too much fat, while daily salt intake was also higher than recommended levels. Processed meats and bread were the main culprits when it came to salt intake.
The teenagers were also found to be drinking, on average, one and a half glasses of soft drinks per day, but just half a glass of bottled water.
The study revealed that since 1990, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased from 6% to 19% in boys and from 15% to 17% in girls.
However 50% of girls and 25% of boys have tried to lose weight.
While participation in physical activities both in and out of school was relatively high among the teenagers, TV viewing times were also high. One in three spend more than two hours watching TV on weekdays, while two in three watch in excess of two hours at the weekend.
According to one of the researchers, Prof Albert Flynn of University College Cork, clear dietary guidelines for teenagers are required. Such guidelines should focus on appropriate portion sizes, lower consumption of fat, salt and sugared drinks and higher intake of fruit, vegetables, vitamins and minerals.
“The pyramid model used in Ireland to guide healthy eating has been completely revised in the US to tackle obesity and similar revisions need to take place here”, he said.
The study was carried out by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) at University College Cork and University College Dublin.
Too little veg, fruit, fibre, whole grains, lean protein and milk or other calcium source is being consumed from what I see and far too much sweets, crisps, soft drinks, products from chip shop outlets and fast-food chains.
Teens need to be encourage to exercise more and eat healthier, from what I can see parents as well should be taught to encourage their children to replace all those crisps that they eat for fruits, water or natural juice , instead of soft drinks. It is very easy to squeeze orange and have a very healthy orange juice every morning.