3. MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES, Public and environmental health
The childhood years represent a period of increased nutrient requirements during which a balanced diet is important to ensure optimal growth and development. The aim of this study was to examine food and nutrient intakes and compliance with recommendations in school-aged children in Ireland and to examine changes over time. Analyses were based on two National Children's Food Surveys; NCFS (2003-2004) (n 594) and NCFS II (2017-2018) (n 600) which estimated food and nutrient intakes in nationally representative samples of children (5-12 years) using weighed food records (NCFS: 7-d; NCFS II: 4-d). This study found that nutrient intakes among school-aged children in Ireland are generally in compliance with recommendations; however, this population group have higher intakes of saturated fat, free sugars and salt, and lower intakes of dietary fibre than recommended. Furthermore, significant proportions have inadequate intakes of vitamin D, Ca, Fe and folate. Some of the key dietary changes that have occurred since the NCFS (2003-2004) include decreased intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, milk and potatoes, and increased intakes of wholemeal/brown bread, high-fibre ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, porridge, pasta and whole fruit. Future strategies to address the nutrient gaps identified among this population group could include the continued promotion of healthy food choices (including education around 'healthy' lifestyles and food marketing restrictions), improvements of the food supply through reformulation (fat, sugar, salt, dietary fibre), food fortification for micronutrients of concern (voluntary or mandatory) and/or nutritional supplement recommendations (for nutrients unlikely to be sufficient from food intake alone).
Kehoe, Laura; Breffini, Maria; McNulty, Breige A.; Kearney, John; Flynn, Albert; and Walton, Janet, "Food and Nutrient Intakes and Compliance with Recommendations in School-aged Children in Ireland: Findings from the National Children’s Food Survey II (2017–2018) and Changes Since 2003–2004." (2023). Articles. 359.
Both the NCFS and NCFS II were funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) under the National Development Plan 2000–2006 for the NCFS (2003–2004) and the 2015 Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM) awards for the NCFS II (2017–2018).
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