Menu
 

You are on the Natcen site

Click here for Scotcen

natcen map

You are on the Natcen site

Click here for Scotcen

natcen map

National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS)

Fruit stall

The only source of nationally representative UK data on the types and quantities of foods consumed by individuals.

Background

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) is jointly funded by Public Health England and the UK Food Standards Agency. The NDNS provides the only source of nationally representative UK data on the types and quantities of foods consumed by individuals. This enables us to see a detailed picture of the diet and nutrition status of the UK population. Results are used by government to monitor progress toward diet and nutrition objectives of UK Health Departments and to develop policy interventions.

The latest report, published on 11 December 2020, includes results from Years 9 to 11 (2016-2019) of the survey and looks at long-term trends in food and nutrient intake (since 2008).

Findings

Sugar-sweetened soft drinks

Over the 11 years (since 2008), the proportion of children aged 1.5 to 18 years and adults aged 19 to 64 consuming sugar-sweetened soft drinks dropped significantly.

Free sugars[1]

Over the 11 years (since 2008), children and adults showed a significant reduction in intake as a percentage of total energy. However, in 2016-2019 free sugars intake in all age groups still exceeded the government recommendation of providing no more than 5% of total energy intake.

Saturated fatty acids

In 2016-2019, saturated fatty acids intake exceeded the government recommendation of no more than 10% of total energy in all age groups[2]. There was no change seen in intakes over the longer term (since 2008).

Fibre

In 2016-2019, fibre intake was below the government recommendations for all age groups and differences. Analysis of the trend over 11 years (since 2008) were small and inconsistent in direction. 

Red blood cell (RBC) folate

Since 2008 the proportion of women of childbearing age (aged 16 to 49 years) with RBC folate less than 748nmol/L (the level below which there is an increased risk of neural tube defects) increased significantly, In 2016-2019, 89% of women of childbearing age had a RBC folate concentration less than 748nmol/L.

Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D

In 2016-2019, 19%, 16% and 13% of children aged 11 to 18 years, adults aged 19 to 64 years and adults aged 65 years and over, respectively, had a 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration less than 25nmol/L (the level below which there is increased risk of poor musculoskeletal health at a population level).  Since 2008 there has been a small improvement in vitamin D status in younger children (aged 4 to 10 years) and older adults (aged 65 years and over).

Methods

Individuals aged 18 months and above are recruited from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Around 1,000 people a year take part in the study each year. In Years 9 to 11 we asked participants to:

  • answer some general questions about eating habits, health and lifestyle;
  • keep a food and drink diary;
  • fill out a physical activity questionnaire;
  • give urine and blood samples; and
  • allow us to take physical measurements such as waist and hip circumference, height and weight.

The latest report focuses on food and nutrient intake and hence not all data collected is included. 

 


[1] ‘Free sugars’ include all sugars added to a food or drink in any form, including honey and syrups, and also the sugar in fruit and vegetable juices, purees and pastes and all sugar in drinks except for milk sugars. The recommendation applies to those aged 2+ years.

[2] The recommendation applies to those aged 4+ years.

Read latest report