By Max Clarke

Poor eating habits among the nation’s teens are creating a time bomb of poor health that will, if unaddressed, lead to a widespread epidemic of poor health.

The problem is particularly acute amongst teenage girls, who eat just half of the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, adding to long-term healh problems.

"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,” said Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which was led by the National Centre for Social Research and MRC Human Nutrition Research, found that teenage girls are only eating half their recommended portions of fruit and veg. And just 56 per cent of teenage girls are getting enough iron in their diet.

While both teenage boys and girls are failing to get their recommended 5-a-day of fruit and veg, girls eat on average half a portion less each day than boys. The findings build on previous surveys and highlight that poor eating habits risk storing up a number of potential problems for later life, such as heart disease and some cancers.

There are signs that diets, particularly among children, are starting to improve, as nutrition expert, Dr Alison Lennox explains.

”We are seeing small but encouraging signs of healthy eating in the UK — more fruit and vegetables and less soft drinks and confectionery, especially by children — but we have a long way to go. Our saturated fat intakes are still too high.”

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