National Diet And Nutrition Survey Published
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Results from the first year of the new National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) suggest that the UK population is eating less saturated fat, less trans fat and less added sugar than it was 10 years ago.
Saturated fat intakes in adults have dropped slightly to 12.8% of food energy, compared with 13.3% in 2000/01, and men and children are eating less added sugar.
The population's trans fat intakes have also fallen slightly and are now at 0.8% of food energy, which is well within recommended levels. And, on average, adults are eating 4.4 portions of fruit and vegetables a day with over a third of men and women now meeting the '5-a-day' guideline.
However, despite these encouraging indications, intakes of saturated fat are still above the recommended level of 11% of food energy intake, and at 12.5%, population intakes of added sugars still exceed the recommended 11%.
The research shows 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 1992 and 2001, although there are suggestions of positive changes. Importantly though, the findings do not identify any new or emerging nutritional problems in the general population.
Other findings include:
- People are still not eating enough fibre, which is essential for healthy digestion. Current average intakes are 14g per day for adults, some way below the recommended 18g.
- Consumption of oily fish, which is the main source of beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, remains low. Both adults and children are eating well below the recommendation of one portion per week.
- Iron intakes among girls aged 11 to 18 years and women are still low in many cases - which can lead to iron deficiency and anaemia. However, overall, vitamin and mineral intakes among the population are slightly improved.
Gill Fine, Director of Consumer Choice and Dietary Health at the FSA, said: 'The results from the first year of our new NDNS rolling programme provide us with an interesting snapshot of the nation's diet, and will allow us to track emerging trends over future years. The evidence from this and from further surveys will help us and other government departments formulate policy to address the issues that have been raised.
'It's good news that the survey suggests around a third of the population is eating five portions of fruit and veg each day and it's encouraging to see that these initial findings suggest slightly lower intakes of saturated fat and added sugars than in previous surveys. However, there is obviously a way to go before we are meeting all the Government's dietary recommendations.
'Good nutrition is important for health and poor diet accounts for a large percentage of premature deaths. We now need to build on the indications of positive change we have observed in this survey. By continuing our programme of campaign work and encouraging product reformulation in key areas such as saturated fat, we will hopefully observe further improvements over the next few years of the programme.'
The NDNS is commissioned by the FSA and the Department of Health to provide robust, nationally representative data on the dietary habits and nutritional status the UK population.
The NDNS rolling programme is being carried out by a consortium of organisations led by the National Centre for Social Research, with the MRC Human Nutrition Research and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Royal Free and University College London Medical School.
Fieldwork for the first year of the programme was undertaken from February 2008 to March 2009.
The NDNS rolling programme is a continuous cross-sectional survey of the food consumption, nutrient intakes and nutritional status of people aged 1.5 years and older, living in private households in the UK. It is carried out in all four countries of the UK and is designed to be representative of the UK population. The programme was commissioned in 2006 by the FSA, with a contribution to funding from the Department of Health in England.
In its previous format, the NDNS programme comprised a series of cross-sectional surveys, each covering a discrete age group. The programme was set up in 1992 and surveys of pre-school children, young people, and older people were carried out in the 1990s, with the most recent NDNS of adults aged 19 to 64 years carried out in 2000/01.
Following a review of the dietary survey programme in 2003, the FSA's Board agreed, in principle, that future NDNS surveys should be carried out on a rolling basis to strengthen the ability to track changes in diet and nutrition over time.
The Agency's 'eatwell plate' illustrates what a balanced and varied diet looks like. A healthy diet is based on starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice and pasta, and also contains lots of fruit and vegetables, some protein-rich foods like meat, fish and lentils and some dairy foods. Foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt should be eaten less often and the Agency advises people to check labels and pick the healthier options whenever possible.
Food Standards Agency
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