Concern is mounting that young children living in the UK are not getting enough vitamin D.
Breakfast cereals company Kellogg’s announced earlier this month that it would be adding the nutrient to all of its kids cereals on the UK market in a bid to tackle the growing problem of rickets, the bone disease caused by a lack of vitamin D.
It said the move was prompted by research showing that the number of children younger than 10 admitted to hospital in the UK with rickets was 140 percent higher in 2009 than it was in 2001.
In the UK, the government says almost no vitamin D is required in the diet to supplement that obtained from sunlight – though this advice is currently under review by the country’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. The nutrient is available naturally in only a limited number of foods, such as oily fish and eggs, but is sometimes added to fortified yellow fat spreads and breakfast cereals.
Kellogg’s warned that parents were increasingly worried about the health risks of sun exposure, which meant they were not encouraging their children to play outdoors for sufficient periods for them to absorb enough vitamin D. Research showed that 29 percent of children play outside less than twice a week, it said.
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 recognizes 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.”
Kellogg’s announcement coincided with the release of a new report by the Feeding for Life Foundation, a body funded by infant formula manufacturer Cow & Gate. In the report, the Foundation raises concern that the latest UK National Diet & Nutrition Survey shows that a quarter of all toddlers do not get enough vitamin D.