‘Lack of information on children’s diets risks obscuring areas of concern’

Only one-third of European countries have robust reporting of children’s diets, risking many being missed out by campaigners keen to improve nutritional policies, a UK-based report has found.

Academics at the University of Leeds said national diet surveys from 53 countries showed that incomplete data meant potential nutritional issues in certain countries – particularly in central and eastern Europe – may go undetected or be under-estimated.

They cited issues such as iron deficiency and low vitamin D intake as potential problems.

Lead author Holly Rippin, a postgraduate researcher from the School of Food Science and Nutrition, said: “The lack of available data for child nutrient intake is concerning.

“It makes it extremely difficult to identify vulnerable groups, compare nutrient intakes between countries and provide evidence for policies that could improve health.

“It’s similar to trying to describe a complex watercolour when large sections haven’t been painted in yet.

“The worry is that it is extremely difficult to design suitable and locally-appropriate nutrition policies in countries without sufficient data. Easily accessed, robust data is critical in tailoring policies to meet national needs and improve diets across Europe.”

The paper, Child And Adolescent Nutrient Intakes From Current National Dietary Surveys Of European Populations, is published in the Nutrition Research Reviews journal.