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Diet and nutrition: children

In 2015, 12% of children (12% of boys and 13% of girls) aged 2-15 met the recommended daily intake of five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day.  Chart 1 shows the proportion of boys and girls who met the recommended daily intake of five or more portions of fruit and vegetables in 2015, by age group.

Between 2008 and 2015, the proportion of children aged 2-15 consuming five portions or more of fruit and vegetables per day has remained broadly stable between 12% to 15%

Ten percent of boys aged 2-15 living in the most deprived Scottish Index of multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile met the recommendation in 2015, compared with 15% in the least deprived quintile. Eighteen per cent of girls met the recommendation in the least deprived quintile compared with 9% in the most deprived (Chart 2). The proportion of children consuming no daily fruit and vegetables was greatest in the most deprived quintile (12%) and lowest in the least deprived quintile (3%) (Chart 3).

The Scottish Health Survey reported that children with at least one parent who met the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables were more likely to meet the recommended intake.

Research carried out by the Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit at the University of St Andrews (previously at the University of Edinburgh) used the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey to assess gender differences in food and drink consumption among Scottish school-aged children. The Nutrition and health among young people in Scotland, 2010 briefing paper reported that:

  • Over a quarter of 11-15 year olds consume sweets and crisps once a day or more
  • Girls are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables than boys, whereas boys are more likely to eat chips, biscuits and white bread
  • Boys are more likely than girls to eat breakfast everyday on schooldays and there is a gradual decline in breakfast consumption with age
  • Boys and girls who eat breakfast everyday on school days are more likely to rate their school performance as 'good or very good', and more likely to rate their health as 'excellent or good'
  • Pupils who skip breakfast everyday on schooldays are more likely to consume sugary drinks and snack type foods (e.g. sweets, crisps) once a day or more
  • Pupils who consume fruit and vegetables once a day or more are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than those who eat them less than once a day.

The final report of the Food Standard Agency in Scotland's Survey of sugar intake among children in Scotland was published in March 2008. Key survey findings included:

  • The average intake of NMES (non-milk extrinsic sugars) was 17.4% of calorie intake, which is higher than the Scottish Dietary Target of 10%
  • NMES intakes were higher in older children; NMES consumption was 15.8% of calorie intake in three to seven year olds and up to 19.1% in 12 to 17 year olds
  • Intakes were higher in those living in less affluent areas, where more high sugar foods such as soft drinks were consumed
  • There was no evidence of a difference in average consumption between children who were overweight and those who were not. This could be due to the children eating less at the time of the study or under-reporting what they ate.

Please note: If you require the most up-to-date data available, please check the data sources directly as new data may have been published since these data pages were last updated. Although we endeavour to ensure that the data pages are kept up-to-date, there may be a time lag between new data being published and the relevant ScotPHO web pages being updated.

Page last updated: 15 September 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014