Just four per cent of young people in Northern Ireland are eating enough fruit and vegetables, a report has said.
Adults and older children are falling well behind the rest of the UK when it comes to eating the recommended amount, according to a report from the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland and the Department of Health.
The study found that 96 per cent of children aged 11-18 did not eat five a day, and neither did 82 per cent of adults aged between 19 and 64, nor 77 per cent of those aged 65 and over.
Ruth Balmer, senior scientific adviser at the FSA in Northern Ireland said: “These figures are alarming and everyone needs to be aware that poor eating habits increase our risk of developing diet-related diseases and health problems.
“It is startling that so few of our young people and teenagers – just four per cent – are eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables and it shows us just how much work we need to do with young people and teenagers.”
The report said people were eating too much saturated fat and not enough oily fish while men and boys were having too much red and processed meat.
Marian Faughnan, chief specialist in nutrition with the safefood health authority, said: “It’s clear that changes are needed.”
“Consumers tell us they want practical advice to help them make changes to their diet, for example, cutting down on sugary and fatty treat foods or replacing sugary drinks with water.
“These small changes are easier to sustain in the long run and can have a big impact on our health, especially among our children and teenagers.”
Other findings of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey revealed:
• The amount of fibre consumed was significantly less than the rest of the UK;
• A third of adults aged 19 to 64 years in Northern Ireland had low blood levels of vitamin D, which can lead to conditions like rickets, a higher proportion than in the UK as a whole;
• The lowest income group had lower fruit and vegetable consumption than those with the most money. They also had lower intakes of starch and some vitamins and minerals.