There are always two sides to every story. While there is an increase in the number of people who adopt healthy lifestyles, there are those that succumb to eating unhealthy foods because of the fast-paced lives that they live. In the United Kingdom, a study published in the Lancet Medical Journal shows that more young people are opting for junk foods and fad diets. They are at risk for nutrient deficiencies. Specifically, teenage girls between the age of 11 and 18 were found to be deficient from nine (9) essential nutrients such as Potassium, Magnesium, Selenium, Iodine, Zinc, Vitamin B2, Vitamin A, Calcium, and Iron.

What Are the Numbers?

This particular study evaluated the intake of essential nutrients among British people from 1996 to 2016. Absorption of Calcium among teenage girls has fallen by 10%, which may affect bone strength and development among young women. Moreover, Vitamin D has fallen by 22%, and this is an essential nutrient for the bones, lungs, and brain. Iron, on the other hand, has fallen by 5%, and Potassium has decreased by 4%. Both Iron and Potassium are crucial for having a healthy cardiovascular system. Vitamin A, which is vital for the eyes as well as reproductive health, has fallen by as much as 21%. Although this may be the case, protein intake increased by 10%, followed by Zinc and Magnesium by 4% and 2%, respectively.

On the other hand, the calorie and fat intake of teenage girls has also fallen by 17% and 25%, respectively. This is very surprising and ironic compared to countries where adolescent obesity is a big problem. Intake of an adequate number of calories and fats is necessary to drive the healthy metabolism of the body.

UK Needs To Fortify Diets to Address Nutrient Deficiencies

Lead author Dr. Emma Derbyshire from the Health Consultancy Nutritional Insight Limited noted that despite that, there is so much information on health and nutrition, the UK diet has not improved. Moreover, the declining intake of vitamins and minerals from the right kinds of food is also a big problem as people are still opting for junk food that is, unfortunately, devoid of any nutrition. The lousy diet choices of people are responsible for around 90,000 deaths in Britain yearly. One in six deaths in the UK is associated with unhealthy foods.

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Why Teenage Girls Are Vulnerable

Teenage girls are vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies. One of the biggest culprits identified by the study is the modern and busy lifestyle that most young women follow. But more than the active lifestyle, Dr. Derbyshire also noted that social media is a significant driver in the nutritional deficiencies of many UK teenage girls. Many young women are conscious of their weight due to social media pressure; thus, they opt to go on great lengths to stay slim. Moreover, misinformation on the different fad diets or food groups is very rampant in social media, and it seems that this misinformation is moving faster than the science behind the food.

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