British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Nutrient adequacy in Spanish children and adolescents

Lluís Serra-Majema1a2 c1, Lourdes Ribas-Barbaa2, Carmen Pérez-Rodrigoa3 and Javier Aranceta Bartrinaa3

a1 Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, PO Box 550, E-35080 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

a2 Community Nutrition Research Center, Science Park of the University of Barcelona, Spain

a3 Community Nutrition Unit, Municipality of Bilbao, Spain

Abstract

The nutritional intakes of the Spanish child and adolescent population are presented, as well as the population at risk of inadequate nutrient status. A random sample of 3534 people aged 2–24 years were interviewed between 1998 and 2000. Interviews included two 24 h recalls and a general questionnaire and anthropometric evaluations for the entire sample. After excluding under-reporters (18·7 %), the final sample was 2855 individuals (1348 males and 1507 females). The average intake of energy was 9543 kJ in males and 7804 kJ in females, with important variations seen by age group. Energy intake increased with age in both sexes until 14–17 years, which also applied to almost all of the nutrients studied, with the exception of vitamin C. A decreasing trend in the percentage of energy from carbohydrates was seen in both sexes. At the low socioeconomic level, it was observed that all nutrient intakes were less favourable when compared with higher socioeconomic levels. Nutrients with associated intakes below one-third of the Spanish recommended nutrient intake (RNI) included vitamin D (42 % of the sample) and folate (10 % of females), and the percentages falling below two-thirds of the RNI corresponded to: vitamin D (97 %), vitamin A (60 %), vitamin E (54 %), folate (58 % of females), Fe (23 % of females), vitamin C (8 %), Mg (4·5 %), Ca (5 % of females) and vitamin B6 (5 % of females). Adolescents aged between 14 and 17 years was the group with the highest nutritional risk, especially among girls. Nutritional adequacy in Spanish children was, in general, adequate, although it is necessary to analyse the implications of high inadequate intakes of vitamins D, E and A, which means that the current recommended intakes should be reconsidered. It should be noted that folate levels should be doubled in the near future.

Correspondence:

c1 *Corresponding author: Professor Lluís Serra-Majem, fax +34 928 453475, email lserra@dcc.ulpgc.es