Public Health Nutrition

Nutrition and health

Nutrient intake and dietary patterns of relevance to dental health of 12-year-old Libyan children

Rasmia Huewa1, Anne Maguirea1, Paula Waterhousea1 and Paula Moynihana1a2a3 c1

a1 Centre for Oral Health Research, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

a2 Institute for Ageing and Health, School of Dental Sciences, Newcastle University, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4BW, UK

a3 Human Nutrition Research Centre, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Objective There are few data on the dietary intake of children in Libya, and none on free sugars intake. The present study aimed to report the intake of macronutrients and eating habits of relevance to dental health in a group of Libyan schoolchildren and to investigate any gender differences for these variables.

Design Dietary information was obtained from a randomly selected sample using an estimated 3 d food diary. Dietary data were coded using food composition tables and entered into a Microsoft® Access database. Intakes of energy, macronutrients, sugars and the amount of acidic items consumed were determined using purpose-written programs.

Setting Benghazi, Libya.

Subjects Schoolchildren aged 12 years.

Results One hundred and eighty children (ninety-two boys and eighty-eight girls) completed the study. Their mean age was 12·3 (sd 0·29) years. The average daily energy intake was 7·01 (sd 1·54) MJ/d. The percentage contributions to energy intake from protein, fat and carbohydrate were 16 %, 30 % and 54 %, respectively. Total sugars contributed 20·4 % of the daily energy intake, and free sugars 12·6 %. The median daily intake of acidic items was 203 g/d, and of acidic drinks was 146 g/d. There were no statistically significant differences in nutrient intakes between genders. Intake of acidic items was higher in girls (P < 0·001).

Conclusions The contribution to energy intake from macronutrients was in accordance with global nutrition guidelines. The acidic drinks intake was low compared with other populations, while free sugars intake was above the recommended threshold of 10 % of energy intake.

(Received July 20 2012)

(Revised January 28 2013)

(Accepted January 30 2013)

(Online publication April 03 2013)


  • Children;
  • Diet;
  • Nutrient intake;
  • Dental health;
  • Sugars intake;
  • Dietary acids


c1 Corresponding author: Email