Survey reveals diet habits of a nation

The Department of Health released new figures today (Thursday) revealing the state of the nation’s dietary habits.

The cross-sectional survey is designed to assess the diet, nutrient intake and nutritional status of the general population aged 18 months-plus living in the UK.

Key findings included:

• Fruit and vegetables: Adults (aged 19 to 64 years) consumed on average, 4.2 portions per day and older adults (aged 65 years and over) consumed 4.4 portions. 30% of adults and 37% of older adults met the ‘five-a-day’ recommendation

• Boys aged 11-18 years, consumed on average 3.1 portions per day and 13% met the ‘five a day’ recommendation.
Girls in the same age group consumed 2.7 portions per day and 7% met the recommendation.

• Saturated fat: Mean intake for all age groups exceeded the recommended level of no more than 11 per cent of food energy. The mean intake for adults aged 19 to 64 years was 12.8% of food energy

• Trans fat: Mean intakes provided 0.7-0.9% of food energy for all age groups, which was within the recommendation of no more than 2% food energy

• Non-Milk Extrinsic Sugars (NMES) (added sugar and sugar released from food during processing): Mean intakes exceeded the recommendation of no more than 11% of food energy for children aged 4 to 18 years and adults aged 19 to 64 years

•Alcohol: 61% of adults (aged 19-64) and 53% of older adults (aged 65 years and over) consumed alcohol during the four-day diary.
Adults who had consumed alcohol obtained 9% of energy intake from alcohol in the 19 to 64 age group and 6% in the 65 years and over group.

The survey suggested that the overall picture of the diet and nutrition of the UK population is broadly similar to previous surveys in the NDNS series carried out between 1994 and 2001 and did not identify any new nutritional problems in the general population.

The DH published the combined results from the first two years of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) rolling programme (2008/09–2009/10).

The NDNS involves an interview, a four-day dietary diary and blood and urine samples. Results are used by government to develop policy and monitor progress on diet and nutrition and to assess whether the UK population is meeting expert recommendations on particular nutrients.

The NDNS is jointly funded by the Department of Health in England and the UK Food Standards Agency and carried out by a consortium of three organisations: National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) MRC Human Nutrition Research (HNR) and the University College London Medical School (UCL).

The full statistical release, including a summary, can be found here.

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