28th October 2011 — In order to help tackle the growing issue of illnesses relating to vitamin D deficiency such as Rickets, Kellogg’s is adding vitamin D to all of its kids’ cereals1 in the UK.
New research released today shows that 82 per cent of Paediatric Dietitians surveyed2 have seen an increase in cases of Rickets in the last five years and 46 per cent have seen cases of Rickets in the last year alone.
With the clocks going back this weekend and reduced sunlight, it’s important parents consider alternative ways to boost their children’s Vitamin D intake.
Worryingly, 94 per cent of Paediatric Dietitians feel that parents aren’t aware of the importance of vitamin D to a balanced diet and research with parents3revealed that only 12 per cent give their children food rich in vitamin D. That’s not surprising, however, as Vitamin D is present in relatively few foods such as oily fish, fortified margarine and eggs.
Research shows that the number of children younger than ten admitted to hospital with rickets was 140 per cent higher in 2009 than in 20014. Even this statistic only hints at the problem. Because rickets is not an infectious disease, health professionals are under no obligation to measure incidences of the condition, making it impossible to quantify the scale of the problem across the British population.
A recent study carried out by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Professor Nicholas Clarke at Southampton General Hospital showed more than 20 per cent of children checked for bone problems in his clinic had significant deficiencies.
Professor Clarke comments: “Although we have seen an increase in awareness of rickets as a condition, it does not seem to have reduced the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the population we treat and that is of great concern.
“We continue to see children, possibly with increased frequency, with vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in the clinic and my review is that vitamin D inclusion in cereal is essentially a good idea given the pathology we are seeing.”
“Our study showed that Vitamin D deficiency does not occur in any particular ethnic minority or social depravation group. It’s something that affects all demographic groups.”
It’s important that everyday, commonly eaten foods are fortified in order to have an impact on the level of vitamin D in children’s diets. Kellogg’s children’s cereals are in 82 per cent of households nationwide so by adding vitamin D to these cereals, Kellogg’s will be helping to boost levels of the sunshine nutrient.
Currently there isn’t a recommended nutritional intake (RNI) of Vitamin D for children over 5 because it is assumed they will get enough from sunlight. This makes it difficult for healthcare professionals to advise on how much Vitamin D they should be getting to avoid health problems associated with this deficiency.
In addition, parents who are worried about the risks of sun exposure are failing to encourage their children to spend time outdoors in the sunlight with a third4 not getting enough sun exposure to give them sufficient vitamin D. Children are also spending more time inside on the computer with 29 per cent playing outside less than twice a week.
Jacqui Lowdon, chair of the Paediatric Group at British Dietetic Association comments: “'Health professionals are increasingly becoming aware that even mild vitamin D deficiency can be detrimental for long-term health. Its important that children are encouraged to get some sun exposure without sunblock, more foods are fortified with Vitamin D and supplementation is encouraged.”
Health care professionals recommend supplements for children under five but less than one5 per cent of parents surveyed give their child a Vitamin D supplement. This shows the importance of fortifying everyday food to boost levels of Vitamin D.
Alyson Greenhalgh-Ball, European nutrition director at Kellogg’s said: “What’s worrying is that Rickets is the extreme end of the scale and many more children will be suffering from Vitamin D deficiency which can lead to other health problems.
“It’s important the government takes this issue seriously and recognises the need for parents to be better informed about the risks of vitamin D deficiency. Healthcare Professionals would like to see the introduction of a recommended daily intake so we are clear on exactly how much vitamin D children need in their diet to avoid these health issues. It’s also important that incidents of Rickets in the UK are monitored so we can understand the full extent of the problem.”
Kellogg’s has had a long history of fortifying its cereal with essential vitamins. Folic acid was added to Kellogg’s cereals in the 1980s to address the problem of neural tube defects. The FSA has identified breakfast cereals as an important contributing factor to the decreased incidence of Spina Bifida.
For more information on Vitamin D visit http://www.vitamindawareness.com
For more information, please contact the Kellogg’s press office on
- By the end of 2012 Vitamin D will be added to the following Kellogg’s cereals: Coco Pops, Coco Pops Moons & Stars, Coco Pops Rocks, Coco Pops Moons and Stars and Rice Krispies, Rice Krispies Multigrain and Honey Loops. There is currently Vitamin D in Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Special K and Coco Pops Choc N Roll and Mini Max, Ricicles.
- Survey for Kellogg’s in July with 120 British Dietetic Association (BDA) Paediatric Dieticians.
- Research by Opinion Matters with 1033 UK parents in June 2011.
- Freedom of Information responses from 70 PCTs. The responses refer to the number of patients admitted to hospital with rickets, not the number diagnosed with or treated for rickets by their GP.
- National Diet and Nutrition Survey (Rolling Programme) 2011.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because our skin can produce vitamin D from the sun’s ultra violet light (UVB). It helps control the amount of calcium we absorb and is important for the development of strong bones.