Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Role of Red Meat in Teenage Development

This is the blog site for our experts from the Meat Advisory Panel to offer their insight and opinions on current topics and the latest data on the nutritional value of red meat. Please feel free to comment on any post and be involved in their discussions.

Dr Emma Derbyshire looks at the important role red meat has to play in the teenage diet
“I have recently been involved in a review that looked at the role red meat has to play in our diets across our different age spectrums. Today, I thought I would pick out a few of my observations and share some of the thinking about the significant role of red meat in the teenage diet.

“As everyone will be aware, the teenage years are the most rapid years of physical and emotional change.  There are three considerable changes that occur which demand an increase in the bodies’ need for nutrients. These include rapid growth spurts, the onset of menstruation in girls and muscle and bone development, especially in boys.

“However, it is also a time when teenagers are asserting their independence and my research showed that currently some choose to ignore healthy eating and lifestyle messages as these conflict with peer group influences on independence, image and fitting in . Poor eating behaviour in adolescents, including things such as skipping breakfast, dieting for counter-productive weight control, grazing instead of eating meals and preference for foods and drinks high in fat and sugar can be detrimental to health.

“Another recent UK survey, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) has shown that a considerable amount of teenagers are not taking in enough key nutrients to help support their bodies’ development.  The findings from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS)3 also highlight two particular areas of nutrient concern in 11-18 year olds. These are insufficient intake of iron and vitamin D.

“Worryingly, it showed that nine per cent of teenage girls were iron deficient and over 30 per cent had low iron stores (low ferritin). In the male population it showed that one per cent is iron deficient and eight per cent have low ferritin amount. With regards to vitamin D, 20 per cent of girls and 19 per cent of boys were deficient.

“This is where red meat plays a pivotal role in providing the nutrients teenagers need during this intense physical  growth period. Nutrients such as vitamins B1, B3 (niacin), B6, B12 and D, as well as iron, zinc selenium and potassium – all essential to help support growth and development in the teenage years.

“However, we also know teenagers are consuming below the average recommendations when it comes to lean red meat. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition advises that we should be consuming up to 500g of cooked meat (around 70g daily) per week , whereas currently adolescents consume on average 64g daily with girls consuming far less than boys. Of interest, another recent study has shown that teenage girls eating under six ounces a week of red meat with two or more servings of fruit or non-starchy vegetables had lower blood lipid levels than teenage girls eating lower amounts of red meat . This suggests that eating red meat in these quantities can provide key nutrients without impacting blood lipid levels.

“I believe there is a need to educate teenagers on the role lean red meat can have as part of a balanced diet for developing their bodies. It is a rich source of high quality protein, containing many of the key nutrients needed during this time of growth. Teenagers often feel awkward and unsure of themselves as they start to discover who they really are, or would like to be, and ensuring a balanced diet, including lean red meat, can help support them nutritionally as they start develop physically and emotionally.”