Research: CRAWLEY, Statistics, OR a

Listed in Issue 23

Abstract

CRAWLEY, Statistics, OR and Probabilistic Methods Research Centre (STORM), University of North London, UK studied the dietary differences reported by teenagers in Scotland compared with teenagers elsewhere in the UK.

Background

Methodology

Data was used from a sub-sample of 1615 respondents (658 males; females 957) from the 1970 longitudinal birth cohort study collected cross-sectionally at 16-17 years. 4-day dietary and activity diaries were completed as were other questionnaires providing demographic and lifestyle data for the teenagers and their parents.

Results

Diets of Scottish teenagers were significantly different to those of teenagers in England and Wales, even when differences in smoking habits, parental smoking, alcohol intake, family size and housing tenure were allowed. Compared to teenagers in England and Wales, intakes of fibre, magnesium, phosphorous, retinol equivalents, carotene and riboflavin were significantly lower in Scotland in men and women, as were intakes of non-processed vegetables and non-fried potato, skimmed milks, fat spreads high in polyunsaturates and beer. Teenagers in Scotland drank more soft drinks and ate more chips and white bread then their counterparts in England and Wales. There were no regional differences noted in intakes of vitamin C and fruit, but lower intakes of fruit in Scotland appeared to be associated with a higher incidence of teenage smoking.

Conclusion

The diets of Scottish teenagers appeared to diverge further from current dietary recommendations than those of teenagers elsewhere in the UK, but the lower intakes of fruit reported in Scottish teenagers is likely to be associated with teenage smoking rather than living in Scotland.

References

Crawley H. Dietary and lifestyle differences between Scottish teenagers and those living in England and Wales. Eur J Clin Nutr 51(2): 87-91. Feb 1997.

Comment

Is there any wonder that Scotland tops the heart disease league tables in Europe? Diet is to a large extent complex and heavily culturally determined. No amount of legislation can force people to eat their greens if they don't wish to. In order to change the steady diet of soft drinks and chips to one of fresh fruit and vegetables, substantial changes need to be made, so that fresh produce is readily available, inexpensive and desirable. Social and cultural changes have to occur as well, so that heavy drinking and smoking are not sought after activities which place peer pressure upon young adults.

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