Fewer children drinking and smoking, but poor diet persists

More than one child in six eats less than one portion of fruit
and vegetables a day according to latest figures.

In 2002 children aged between 5 and 16 ate on average just two
portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Experts recommend at least
five portions should be eaten, but only 12 per cent eat that many.
Girls eat slightly more fruit and vegetables than boys.

The latest statistics on children’s health from the
Department of Health also suggest that children are slowly getting
fatter. The average (mean) body mass index (bmi) for boys aged 0-16
increased  from 17.6 to 18.1 between 1995 and 2002. In the same
period girls’ bmi increased from 18 to 18.5. The biggest
increase was among girls aged 14 – from 20.8 to 22.1.

But there is some evidence in the survey that fewer children are
drinking alcohol. Slightly fewer boys and girls  under 16 said they
had drunk a whole alcoholic drink in 2002 than in 1998 (37 per cent
compared to 39 per cent).

There has also been a slight fall in the proportion of children
who say they have ever smoked. In 2002 19 per cent said they had
smoked, compared to 22 per cent of boys and 21 per cent of girls in

Around nine out of ten children in every age group and both
sexes described their general health as either good or very


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