Teenage eating habits, particularly those of teenage girls, are poor and getting worse, the Department of Health (DH) has claimed.

Many teenagers are failing to get their five a day, with girls eating, on average, half a portion less than boys, the DH's National Diet and Nutrition Survey found. Nearly half (44 per cent) of teenage girls were also not getting sufficient amounts of iron in their diets.

The report claims that teenagers could be left facing a multitude of health problems in later life, such as heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Chief Medical Professor Dame Sally Davies said: "It is really important that teenagers eat a balanced diet - including eating five portions of fruit and veg a day. Eating well and being active can help prevent serious illnesses such as cancer and heart disease later in life."

However, there was some good news in the survey. The diets of younger children are improving, with less drinking fizzy drinks, eating crisps or chocolates, and more eating high-fibre cereals.

Posted by Robert Mair on 22.7.11 Please send your comments on this article to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com