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Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element which has an important role as a constituent of seleno-proteins involved in various physiological processes. Previous research in Irish adults suggests that intakes of this important nutrient are suboptimal. The aim of the present study was to estimate the current intakes and major food sources of Se by Irish adults. Mean daily intakes (MDIs) of Se were calculated using data from the National Adult Nutrition Survey which involved 1500 Irish adults aged 18–90 years. The Se content of foods and drinks consumed over a 4-d period was determined using data from the Irish Total Diet Study (TDS). Adequacy of Se intakes was assessed by calculating the proportion of the population with intakes below the adequate intake (AI) of 70 μg/d and lower reference nutrient intake of 40 μg/d (LRNI). The MDI of Se in the total population was 71⋅7 μg/d, with significantly higher intakes reported in men (80⋅2 μg/d) compared with women (63⋅4 μg/d, P < 0⋅01). Meat and meat products were the major contributing food group to Se intakes for both men (37 %) and women (31 %). Overall, 47 % of the population were not meeting the recommended AI, while 4 % of the total population were not meeting the LRNI. Although the average intake of Se is above the AI, a significant proportion of the population is not meeting this recommendation and continued monitoring of Se intakes is necessary, particularly by at-risk groups and also in the context of sustainability.
The childhood years represent a period of increased nutrient requirements during which a balanced diet is important to ensure optimal growth and development. The aim of this study was to examine food and nutrient intakes and compliance with recommendations in school-aged children in Ireland and to examine changes over time. Analyses were based on two National Children’s Food Surveys; NCFS (2003–2004) (n 594) and NCFS II (2017–2018) (n 600) which estimated food and nutrient intakes in nationally representative samples of children (5–12 years) using weighed food records (NCFS: 7-d; NCFS II: 4-d). This study found that nutrient intakes among school-aged children in Ireland are generally in compliance with recommendations; however, this population group have higher intakes of saturated fat, free sugars and salt, and lower intakes of dietary fibre than recommended. Furthermore, significant proportions have inadequate intakes of vitamin D, Ca, Fe and folate. Some of the key dietary changes that have occurred since the NCFS (2003–2004) include decreased intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, milk and potatoes, and increased intakes of wholemeal/brown bread, high-fibre ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, porridge, pasta and whole fruit. Future strategies to address the nutrient gaps identified among this population group could include the continued promotion of healthy food choices (including education around ‘healthy’ lifestyles and food marketing restrictions), improvements of the food supply through reformulation (fat, sugar, salt, dietary fibre), food fortification for micronutrients of concern (voluntary or mandatory) and/or nutritional supplement recommendations (for nutrients unlikely to be sufficient from food intake alone).
Plant-based (PB) diets are associated with good health and are also recommended for environmental sustainability. The present review aimed to summarise the definitions of PB diets globally and to investigate the nutritional role of PB diets in adults. This review found that there is a wide range of PB definitions ranging from the traditional vegetarian diets (including vegan) to semi-vegetarian/flexitarian diets. Furthermore, other diets which were originally developed due to their associations with positive health outcomes, such as the portfolio, Mediterranean-style, DASH, healthy US-style, planetary health and Nordic-style diets, have been encompassed in PB definitions due to their emphasis on certain PB components. This review has highlighted that those consuming a PB diet are more likely to meet recommended intakes for carbohydrate, dietary fibre and vitamin E and are less likely to meet recommendations for protein, vitamin B12 and iodine compared to omnivores. Regardless of consumer type, neither PB consumers nor omnivores met recommendations for intakes of vitamin D, calcium and sodium. While intakes of protein, n-3, iron and zinc were generally sufficient from the PB diet, it is important to acknowledge the lower bioavailability of these nutrients from PB foods compared to animal-derived products. As dietary patterns shift towards a more PB diet, there is a need for further studies to investigate the role of PB diets for nutritional adequacy and status in populations currently accustomed to consuming a primarily omnivorous diet.
To examine current dietary fat intakes and compliance in Irish children and to examine changes in intakes from 2005 to 2019.
Analyses were based on data from the Irish National Children’s Food Survey (NCFS) and the NSFS II, two cross-sectional studies that collected detailed food and beverage intake data through 7-day and 4-day weighed food diaries, respectively.
NCFS and NCFS II, Republic of Ireland.
A nationally representative sample of 594 (NCFS) and 600 (NCFS II) children aged 5–12 years. Current intakes from the NCFS II were compared with those previously reported in the NCFS (www.iuna.net).
Current intakes of total fat, SFA, MUFA, PUFA and trans fat as a percentage of total energy are 33·3, 14·0, 13·6, 5·6 and 0·5 %, respectively. Total fat, SFA and trans fat intakes since 2005 remained largely stable over time with all displaying minor decreases of <1 %. Adherence to SFA recommendations remains inadequate, with only 7 % of the population complying. Insufficient compliance with PUFA (71 %) and EPA and DHA (DHA; 16 %) recommendations was also noted.
Children in Ireland continue to meet the total fat and trans fat target goals. Adherence to MUFA and PUFA recommendations has also significantly improved. However, deviations for some fats remain, in particular SFA. These findings are useful for the development of dietary strategies to improve compliance with current recommendations.
Fruit and vegetables (F&V) play an important role in the prevention of obesity and other chronic diseases and low intakes have been highlighted as one of the risk factors attributing to global mortality in adults. The childhood years are a critical period during which eating behaviours and food preferences evolve, providing an opportunity to develop and foster healthy eating practices, which carry into adulthood. This review aimed to summarise dietary guidelines relating to F&V, intakes of F&V and the contribution of F&V to energy and nutrient intakes in school-aged children in Europe. The current review showed a paucity of data in relation to guidelines specific for children for F&V consumption. Where guidelines were available, they ranged from 100 to 500 g or one to three portions of F&V daily (with variations in the categorisations). A key finding was the lack of data on estimates of F&V intakes in school-aged children across Europe. Where data were available, intakes ranged from 221 to 404 g/d and were generally below the WHO recommendation of at least 400 g/d. F&V contributed low proportions of energy intake (6–9%) but made significant contributions to intakes of dietary fibre (19–37%), vitamin A (26–46%), vitamin C (32–83%) and potassium (16–27%); however, they also contributed to intakes of total (25–50%) and free sugar (7–11%). This review has highlighted the need for more data on estimates of F&V intakes in school-aged children in Europe and a need for continued promotion of F&V consumption to increase intakes in this age group.
The present study aimed to examine the temporal prevalence of overweight and obesity in Irish children through different methodologies and evaluate the change in rates between 1990 and 2019.
Anthropometric data from three Irish national food consumption surveys were used to examine the change in the prevalence of BMI and waist circumference-derived overweight and obesity levels.
Three cross-sectional food consumption surveys from the Republic of Ireland: the Irish National Nutrition Survey (1990), the National Children’s Food Survey (2005) and The Second National Children’s Food Survey (2019).
A demographically representative sample of Irish children aged 5–12 years: 1990 (n 148), 2005 (n 594) and 2019 (n 596).
Twelve percentage of children had overweight/obesity in 1990, which was significantly higher in 2005 at 25 % and significantly lower in 2019 at 16 % (P = 0·003). In 2019, more girls had overweight/obesity in comparison with boys (19 v. 14 %), whilst children from the lowest social class group had the highest levels of overweight/obesity (P = 0·019). Overall, the proportion of children with abdominal overweight/obesity was significantly lower in 2019 in comparison with 2005 (P ≤ 0·001).
Evidence from the most recent national survey suggests that overweight and obesity levels are plateauing and in some cases reducing in children in Ireland. Despite this, rates remain high, with the highest prevalence in 2019 observed in girls and in those from the lowest social class group. Thus, overweight/obesity prevention and intervention policies are necessary and should be continued.
Meta-analyses of epidemiological data report that adults who carry a common polymorphism, the MTHFR 677C→T, in the gene encoding the folate-metabolising enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) have a 40% increased risk of CVD and an 87% increased risk of hypertension. Riboflavin (vitamin B2), in its co-enzymatic form flavin adenine nucleotide (FAD), is required as a co-factor by MTHFR and previous trials in hypertensive patients have shown a blood pressure lowering response to riboflavin supplementation that is specific to individuals homozygous for this polymorphism (TT genotype). Low folate status is commonly reported in adults with the TT genotype however the effect of this genetic variant on riboflavin status has not previously been investigated. The aim of this study, therefore, was to investigate dietary intake and biomarker status of riboflavin by MTHFR genotype in Irish adults using data from the National Adult Nutrition Survey (2008–2010) (www.iuna.net).
It was found that 12% of the population had the TT genotype. As expected, there was no significant difference in riboflavin intake across the genotype (CC, CT or TT) groups. Similarly, no significant genotype differences in riboflavin status (EGRac) were observed (1.36 vs 1.37 vs 1.38 respectively). Overall, 61% of the total population had EGRac values > 1.3, indicative of low/deficient status with no significant difference observed between the genotype groups (60%,61% and 61%, respectively).
These data suggest that riboflavin status is not influenced by the C677T polymorphism in MTHFR in this cohort of nationally representative Irish adults. Further research is needed to see the impact of riboflavin status on blood pressure across the genotype groups in this nationally representative cohort of Irish adults.
Recent evidence suggests that menaquinones (Vitamin K2) may be important for both bone health and cardiovascular health. With the exception of menaquinone-4 which is formed from the tissue specific conversion of phylloquinone or menadione, menaquinones are synthesized by bacteria. They are typically found in foods of animal origin such as meat, dairy and fermented foods and may account for up to 25% of total vitamin K intake. There are few data available on menaquinone intakes in population groups due to lack of available composition data. The Irish food composition database however has recently been updated to include data on menaquinones. Therefore, the aim of this study was to use these data to estimate the intakes and key dietary sources of menaquinones (menaquinone-4 & menaquinone-5–10) in the Irish population.
Mean intakes of menaquinone-4 ranged from 8–12μg/d and 10–14μg/d in children aged 1–17 years and adults aged 18–90 years, respectively. Mean combined intakes of menaquinone-5–10 ranged from 32–43μg/d and 32–50μg/d in children aged 1–17 years and adults aged 18–90 years, respectively. ‘Meat & meat products’ were the top contributor of menaquinone-4 (50–66%) intakes across all population groups followed by ‘milks’ (9–25%). ‘Meat & meat products’ (44–61%) and ‘cheeses’ (21–37%) were important contributors to menaquinone-5–10 intakes across all population groups examined.
This study is the first of its kind to report the intakes and sources of menaquinones in the Irish population. ‘Meat & meat products’, ‘cheeses’ and ‘milks’ are important contributors to intakes of menaquinones in the Irish diet. Further research is required to fully understand the role of the menaquinones in human health.
Milk is widely recognised as a nutrient dense food, supporting the growth and development of children. Nevertheless some milk types such as whole milk can consist of high levels of saturated fat, which is recognised for its association with chronic disease risk in adults when intakes are elevated. In Ireland, current dietary guidelines recommend that children from two years onwards should consume low fat milk. Previous research has shown low levels of compliance with this guideline. Therefore the aim of this study is to review the current consumption of milk and non-dairy milk-based alternatives among Irish children and compare these with previous intakes.
Dietary intakes of ‘whole milk’ decreased over time from 232 ± 186g/d to current intakes of 131 ± 154g/d. In contrast, increases were noted in ‘reduced fat milks’ (26 ± 86g/d to 52 ± 110g/d) and ‘non-dairy alternatives’ (0.2 ± 4g/d to 3 ± 19g/d). A total of 68% of children were classified as consumers of whole milk (193 ± 151g/d) compared to 90% (257 ± 178g/d) previously. ‘Reduced fat milk’ consumers increased from 17% to 31% and ‘non-dairy alternatives’ consumers also increased from < 1% to 3%.
Our preliminary results indicate that the number of Irish children consuming whole milk have decreased over the last number of years. In contrast consumers of ‘reduced fat milks’ have significantly increased, indicating potential improvement to healthy eating guidelines adherence. Further analysis to examine current intakes and sources of saturated fat is warranted to establish additional changes in dietary patterns and compliance with recommendations within this age group.
Excess body fat is associated with the production of pro-inflammatory molecules from dysfunctional adipose tissue resulting in systemic inflammation. Inflammation stimulates expression of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin, resulting in elevated serum ferritin and iron overload in metabolic tissues. Hepcidin driven iron maldistribution may be implicated in the development of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and CVD. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of body fat and the associated inflammation on markers of iron homeostasis.
Analyses were based on data from the cross-sectional National Adult Nutrition Survey (2008–2010) (www.iuna.net). Percentage body fat (BF%) of participants (n = 1211) was measured by a Tanita BC420MA device. Participants were classified as healthy, overweight or obese based on age and gender-specific BF% ranges. Serum ferritin and serum hepcidin were measured using immunoturbidimetric immunoassays. ANCOVA with Bonferroni post hoc (p < 0.05) was used to compare anthropometric parameters, biochemical markers of iron status and inflammation and nutrient intakes between BF% groups. Predictors of serum hepcidin and serum ferritin were determined using linear regression analysis.
In the population 42% were classified as healthy, 33% as overfat and 25% as obese. Serum hepcidin was significantly elevated in obese participants (8.42ng/ml ± 4.2) compared to their healthy counterparts (6.49ng/ml ± 3.9)(p < 0.001). Significantly higher serum ferritin was observed in obese (223ng/ml ± 170) and overfat males (166ng/ml ± 120) compared to healthy males (135ng/ml ± 91)(p < 0.001). A significant percentage of overweight (20%) and obese (32%) participants were at severe risk of iron overload compared to healthy participants (8%)(p < 0.001). No significant differences in dietary iron intakes were observed between BF% groups. Linear regression analysis indicated that BF% was a significant (p < 0.001) predictor of hepcidin in males (β = 0.327) and females (β = 0.226). IL-6 (β = 0.317,p < 0.001) and TNFα (β = 0.229,p < 0.001) were the strongest inflammatory predictors of hepcidin in females only. In males, leptin was a positive predictor (β = 0.159,p = 0.003) of hepcidin, while adiponectin displayed a negative predictive relationship (β = -0.145,p = 0.001)
Our results indicate that excessive adiposity is associated with elevated serum ferritin and hepcidin independent of dietary intake. Cytokines are a potential driver of hepcidin in females, with adipose-derived hormones seeming to have the greater effect in males. These results may help to elucidate the relationship between obesity and dysregulated iron metabolism. Further research is required to investigate the metabolic effects of hepcidin-induced iron overload in those with excess body fat.
Breakfast is often referred to as ‘the most important meal of the day’ and is consumed after the longest postprandial fast (an overnight fast). Breakfast consumption has been positively linked to many health benefits and has been shown in many studies to be associated with a better diet quality. The aim of this study was to characterise breakfast in Irish adults and to investigate the contribution of breakfast to overall daily nutrient intake.
Breakfast was consumed on at least one recording day by 99% of participants with an uptake of 93% of potential breakfast occasions. The mean (SD) energy intake at breakfast was 365 (162) kcal, contributing on average 19% to overall daily energy intake. Energy intake from breakfast comprised of 56% carbohydrate, 14% fat and 29% protein. The most frequently consumed foods at breakfast included breakfast cereals, white/brown/wholemeal breads and rolls, butters and fat spreads, jams and marmalades, fruits, eggs, yogurts and some meats. The most frequently consumed beverages included teas, coffees, ‘fruit juices & smoothies’, waters and milk (in teas/coffees, with cereals and as a beverage). The contribution of breakfast to total daily nutrient intakes was 25% for carbohydrate, 16% for fat and 16% for protein. Breakfast also contributed to total daily intakes of dietary fibre (22%), total sugars (28%), saturated fat (18%), B-vitamins (20–32%), vitamins C (23%), D (24%), E (19%) calcium (28%), iron (26%) and sodium (18%).
Breakfast was widely consumed among Irish adults and was typically a nutrient dense meal which contributed significantly to total dietary intakes of a number of important macro- and micro- nutrients but also contributed to total sugars and relatively small proportions of total fat, saturated fat, and sodium.
A diet rich in plant-based foods with fewer animal products may offer improved health and environmental benefits. There is little consensus on the definition for a plant-based diet in the literature with some defining it as one rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, excluding animal foods and with heavy restrictions on processed foods. Other definitions make no reference to the inclusion/exclusion of processed foods and refer only to the exclusion of all animal foods from the total diet. This study aimed to examine the nutritional quality of the Irish diet using each of these plant-based diet definitions.
The plant-based component of the diet provided 309 ± 214kcal/d (1.3 ± 0.9MJ/d) comprising of 68% carbohydrate, 20% fat and 12% protein. Mean intakes of saturated fat and free sugars from the plant-based component of the diet were 5% of energy (%E) and 1%E, respectively. Mean intakes of dietary fibre and sodium were 70g/10MJ and 1855mg/10MJ, respectively.
Allowing for inclusion of processed foods, mean energy intake from the total diet excluding all animal foods was 1051 ± 411kcal/d (4.4 ± 1.7MJ/d) comprising of 66% carbohydrate, 23% fat and 10% protein. Mean intakes of saturated fat and free sugars were 7%E and 14%E, respectively. Mean intakes of dietary fibre and sodium were 40g/10MJ and 2642mg/10MJ, respectively.
Overall, the macronutrient profile of the plant-based component of the diet and the total diet excluding animal foods were similar. However, the plant-based component of the diet was of higher nutritional quality; providing lower intakes of saturated fat, free sugar and sodium and higher intakes of dietary fibre compared to the total diet excluding animal foods. This study highlights the variability in nutritional quality between different definitions of plant based-diets.
Dietary iron requirements are higher among women of child-bearing age (WCBA) to replenish blood loss during menses, to prevent iron deficiency anaemia and to support a healthy foetus during pregnancy. Low intakes of iron have previously been reported among WCBA in Ireland and across Europe and data from European countries have shown that there is evidence of anaemia and low iron stores in this population group. The aim of this study was to investigate the dietary patterns influencing iron intakes in WCBA (18–50 years) in Ireland.
The difference in iron intakes between the high and low intake groups (25 v 6.7mg/d) was 18.3mg/d. Nutritional supplements and ready-to–eat breakfast cereals (RTEBC) (commonly fortified with iron) accounted for 58 and 20% of the difference in intakes between the high and low intake group, respectively. The contribution of nutritional supplements to the difference in iron intakes can be explained by the proportion of users in the high vs low intake group (27% vs < 1%). The contribution of RTEBC to the difference in iron intakes can be explained by both a higher proportion of those in the high vs low intake group consuming RTEBC and those in the high intake group having a higher mean daily intake of RTEBC (78% vs 36%; 32g/d vs 7g/d).
Most of the difference in iron intake between high and low consumers is attributable to nutritional supplement use and the patterns of consumption of fortified RTEBC. These findings will aid in the development of strategies to improve iron intakes in WCBA in Ireland.
Current dietary recommendations encourage increased fibre and reduced sugar consumption. In the UK, specific targets and benchmarks have been established for the sugar content of some foods but not for fibre. National Food Consumption Surveys provide comprehensive information of all foods consumed by representative population samples. The Irish national food surveys as completed by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) capture dietary data at brand level with all details as gathered on pack entered into a discrete but inter-linked database, the Irish National Food Ingredient Database (INFID). The aim of this study was to profile the carbohydrate quality of a convenience sub-sample of packaged foods as eaten by Irish children during the National Children's Food Survey II (2017/2018) as entered into INFID.
Materials and Methods:
All on-pack details from 385 available foods in the categories ‘white breads and rolls’; ‘brown breads and rolls’; ‘other breads and scones’; ‘ready to eat breakfast cereals (RTEBC)’; ‘biscuits’; and ‘cakes, buns and pastries’ were entered in to INFID and quality control completed. The carbohydrate profile of the products was assessed with respect to fibre labelling criteria and UK sugar guidelines and targets. SPSS Version 25 was used for all analyses.
Although 56% (n210) of all products entered were eligible to make a ‘source of’ or ‘high’ fibre claim, only 20% (n78) made such a claim. Of this, 46% stated ‘high fibre’ and 32% ‘source’, predominately in the ‘brown breads and rolls’ and ‘RTEBC’ groups. When compared to UK Department of Health guidance for ‘low’, ‘medium’ and ‘high’ sugar, 65% of all products examined (n250) were either ‘low’ or ‘medium’ sugar. Comparison of median sugar contents with Public Health England sugar reformulation targets revealed different responses in each category, with all categories other than foods deemed as “morning goods” yet to meet the 2020 target of 20% reduction in sugar content.
This small pilot study of a convenience sample of foods suggests that for the limited number of foods examined, for some there remains challenges to reduce sugar and increase fibre contents. Strategies such as reformulation, change in portion size, flexibility in labelling and/or a shift in sales portfolios could be considered but only alongside technological and safety considerations. Further research to broaden this analysis and to link nutrient levels as listed on pack with actual consumption patterns could help ensure all recent initiatives including reformulation are recognised.
Research suggests that food fussiness (FF) and food neophobia (FN) are two separate constructs. Food fussiness is the tendency to be selective about a large proportion of familiar and unfamiliar foods, while food neophobia is the refusal of novel foods. Therefore, the aim of this study is to explore the association between parental feeding practices and child's FF or FN.
Analysis was based on cross-sectional data from the nationally representative Irish National Children's Food Survey II (NCFSII; 2017–2018). The NCFSII collected detailed eating behaviour data from children aged 5–12 (n = 596) using the Children's Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ). This questionnaire contained four items from the food fussiness subscale that represented FN and two items that represented FF. The Feeding Practices & Structure Questionnaire (FPSQ) assessed non-responsive and structure-related parental feeding practices. Spearman's correlation established the association between parental feeding practices and child's FF and FN. Moderation analyses was conducted to explore the extent to which child's age moderates the association.
Higher levels of child's FN was weakly to moderately associated with higher parental reports of reward for eating (RE) (r = .210, p < 0.001), persuasive feeding (PF) (r = .340, p < 0.001), overt restriction (OR) (r = .195, p < 0.001) and lower reports of structured meal settings (SMS) (r = -.085, p = 0.039) and family meals (FMS) (r = -.387, p < 0.001). Higher levels of child's FF had a slightly stronger association with the same parental feeding as FN, with additional associations with structured meal timings (SMT) (r = -.089, p = 0.031) and covert restriction (CR) (r = -.083, p = 0.045). Age moderated the association between both child's FF [b = .22, p < 0.001] and FN [b = .17, p = 0.002] and parental reports of PF, along with moderating the association between child's FF [b = .11, p = 0.04] and parental reports of SMT.
Overall, child's FN and FF were both associated with higher levels of non-responsive feeding practices and lower reports of structure-related feeding practices, with child's FF associated with more parental feeding practices than FN. These findings suggest that it is important to address FN and FF as separate constructs, with more structure-related feeding practices inversely associated with higher levels of FF only. In addition, as children get older findings suggest that less parental feeding practices are utilised, however, higher levels of child's FF/FN are associated with similar levels of PF and SMT (FF only) regardless of age.
Low intakes and suboptimal status of vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, folate and calcium have been reported in older adults across Europe. Dietary strategies to improve micronutrient intakes and status could include food fortification (mandatory or voluntary) and/or the use of nutritional supplements. This study aims to examine the impact of fortified food consumption and nutritional supplement use on nutrient intakes and nutritional status of vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, dietary folate equivalents (DFE) and calcium in older Irish adults.
The consumption of fortified foods and/or use of nutritional supplements increased mean intakes of vitamin D (3.6 to 6.9μg/d), riboflavin (1.6 to 2.3mg/d), vitamin B12 (4.5 to 6.0μg/d), DFE (228 to 408μg/d) and calcium (784 to 947mg/d) in older Irish adults and reduced the prevalence of inadequate intakes of these micronutrients by up to 40%. Furthermore, consumers of fortified foods and/or nutritional supplements had improved biomarker status and reduced prevalence of low/deficient status for vitamin D (62 vs 16%), riboflavin (65 vs 11%), vitamin B12 (8 vs 0%) and folate (serum folate:18 vs 0%; red blood cell folate: 0% across all groups) when compared to non-consumers.
This study has shown that fortified foods and/or nutritional supplements represent an opportunity to improve intakes and status of key micronutrients in older adults. The data presented in this study will serve to inform the development and implementation of updated dietary recommendations for older adults in Ireland.
Being physically active is associated with fundamental health benefits and assists with the maintenance of normal weight in children. The current World Health Organizations’ recommendation is for children to accumulate 60 minutes of physical activity (PA) per day to obtain such benefits. Conversely, time spent in sedentary behaviours including watching screens (ST) are positively associated with the risk of overweight and obesity in young people. The aim of this research was to estimate PA levels and ST usage of Irish children and to examine the relationship with body fat.
This analysis was based on data collected from a nationally representative sample of Irish children aged 5–12-years (n = 591, 50% female) from The National Children's Food Consumption Survey II (www.iuna.net). The Child/Youth Physical Activity Questionnaires (C-PAQ/Y-PAQ) were used to measure PA and ST in 5–8 and 9–12-year-olds respectively. Both questionnaires were self-administered, recall instruments that assessed the frequency/duration of activities participated in over the previous 7-day period. The MET minutes (metabolic cost of the activity multiplied by the duration in minutes) of the PA's were calculated per child. Percentage body fat (%BF) was measured by a Tanita BC420MA device and participants were classified into categories based on their %BF, age and gender. Independent t-tests and ANOVA (post-hoc DunnettT-3) were used to assess differences between gender and %BF category.
Overall, children spent 93 mins/d being physically active with 69% meeting the > 1hr recommendation. There was a significant difference in the time spent undertaking PA between boys (99 mins/d) and girls (88 mins/d) p = 0.020. Children spent 107 mins/d watching screens with 68% meeting the < 2hr guidance. Girls spent significantly less time watching screens (89 mins/d) than boys (124 mins/d) p ≤ 0.001. Children who had a normal %BF accumulated more PA MET mins/day compared to those who were classified as obese, which was significant in the total population (p = 0.007), for boys (p ≤ 0.001), but not girls (p = 0.929).
This preliminary analysis indicates that a high proportion of Irish children are meeting the PA and ST recommendations, with boys being more physically active and spending more time watching screens compared to girls. However, results should be interpreted with caution as PA and ST usage were self-reported by participants. The association between PA MET minutes and %BF suggest that advice to encourage PA participation to combat excess adiposity in Irish children is justified. Future work should examine the role of other potential determinants of obesity in this cohort.
Meat is a nutrient-dense food that plays a central role in the diets of many children globally, contributing significantly to intakes of energy, protein and a number of essential micronutrients. However, nutritive quality is variable across meat types and cuts, and dietary guidelines across Europe typically encourage the consumption of lean meats whilst limiting the consumption of processed meats. The current work aimed to estimate intakes of unprocessed beef and lamb and their contribution to nutrient intakes in Irish children and teenagers.
Unprocessed beef was consumed by 79% of children and 83% of teenagers, while unprocessed lamb was consumed by 19% of children and 20% of teenagers. Mean daily intakes of unprocessed beef were 21 g and 34 g in children and teenagers (consumers only), while mean daily intakes of unprocessed lamb were 14 g and 23 g. Unprocessed beef and lamb contributed 5–6% to mean daily energy intakes and contributed the following proportions to daily nutrient intakes in children and teenagers, respectively: protein (11%, 15%), total fat (7%, 9%), saturated fat (7%, 10%), monounsaturated fat (9%, 11%), iron (7%, 10%), zinc (18%, 23%), vitamin A (7%, 7%), vitamin D (12%, 16%), total niacin (9%, 13%), vitamin B6 (6%, 9%), vitamin B12 (15%, 22%), sodium (6%, 7%).
Unprocessed beef and lamb are valuable sources of nutrients for Irish children and teenagers. Relative to their energy contribution, they contribute higher proportions of a number of important nutrients, such as protein, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and total niacin, while contributing relatively small proportions of total fat, saturated fat and sodium. This research was funded by Meat Technology Ireland.