Why children who refuse fruit and veg are at risk from cancer

New research reveals that thousands of children are at risk from cancer in later life - because they refuse to their eat fruit and vegetables.

The survey commissioned by the Cancer Research Campaign studied the eating habits of 2,635 children aged between 11 and 16-years-old in over one hundred schools in England and Wales.

Researchers found almost six per cent of those questioned - around 200,000 children - had not eaten any fresh fruit and veg in seven days.

Evidence already proves there is a link between a lack of fruit and vegetables and cancer.

Another study, EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Nutrition and Cancer) is one of the world's largest study looking into the diet and health of 400,000 people in nine different European countries.

Its most recent research presented at a recent conference in Lyon suggested that the recommended weekly intake of fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of a whole range of cancers.

Researchers discovered that the high fibre content of fruit and vegetables, help protect against cancers, particularly bowel cancers. They also found that eating a pound of fruit and vegetables a day can half the risk of developing throat cancer.

Although cancer is not often associated with children, cancer experts warn against not eating enough fruit and vegetables.

'While cancer is a disease which affects older people, it is so important to lay the foundations of a healthy lifestyle early on,' said Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information for the Cancer Research Campaign.

'These findings are shocking. It is horrifying that so many children are eating so little fruit and vegetables and potentially storing up health problems in later life.'

Lucy Cooke, from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Health Behaviour Unit at University College London said that the findings supported previous research indicating that fruit and vegetable consumption in Britain, especially among low income groups, falls well below the recommended five portions a day.

The survey found that carrots and sweetcorn are children's favourite vegetables, closely followed by peas and broccoli. While brussels sprouts are bottom of the list.

It also revealed that youngsters like strawberries most, followed by apples, bananas and kiwi fruit, but hate tomatoes and avocadoes.

'Children's diets often persist into adolescence and then adulthood. The rot starts very early and we need to intervene early to reap the maximum health benefit.'

Food experts advise parents to sneak fruit and vegetables into meals by loading a blender with different fruits to make a smoothie and hiding salad in cheese burgers.

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