• children;
  • food groups;
  • food intake;
  • total diet

There is little information on the food intake of adolescents or on how the intake of adolescents has changed. Yet this information is essential to assess the effect of dietary health education and is valuable in formulating future advice. This paper reports the dietary sources of energy, protein, unavailable carbohydrate and fat in the diet of 379 11– and 12-year-old schoolchildren in 1990, and compares these data with similar information collected in 1980. Each child completed two 3-day dietary records between January and July, and was interviewed by one dietitian to verify and enlarge upon the information recorded to obtain a quantitative measure of food intake. The children attended the same seven middle schools in south Northumberland as 375 children of the same age who recorded their diet using the same method 10 years previously (Hackett et al., 1983). Food tables were used to calculate nutrient intake.

Although the total intakes of energy, protein, unavailable carbohydrate and fat changed little over the 10-year period, there were changes in the importance of food groups as contributors to total intakes. Notably, an increase in the role played by confectionery which became the second largest contributor to total energy intake and an increase in the importance of meat and its products as a source of energy, protein and fat. The proportion of energy, protein and fat being derived from milk decreased. Chips remained the largest single source of unavailable carbohydrate, and an important energy and fat source, while the role played by ‘wholemeal’ breads in unavailable carbohydrate intake had increased.