MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory

Results of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) Rolling Programme Years 7&8 combined (2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016) are now published.

On 16th March 2018, Public Health England (PHE) published the latest results of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) Rolling Programme for Years 7&8 combined (2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016).  MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory provides the scientific lead for the NDNS RP; the survey is carried out in collaboration with NatCen Social Research. 

The Year 7&8 report presents a particular focus on free sugars and AOAC fibre intakes which are reported for the first time for all age and sex groups. Also for the first time, results are shown for food and nutrient intakes for older adults split into those aged 65 to 74 years and 75 years and over. Furthermore, the report provides an overview of food consumption, nutrient intakes and nutritional status as well as results on blood folate and urinary iodine for the UK overall. We’ve summarised some of the survey findings below, the full report can be found on the Government website. Reports for the NDNS RP combining Years 5 to 9 (2012/2013 – 2016/2017) are expected later this year.

Free sugars and AOAC fibre intakes

In 2015 SACN published its report on Carbohydrates and Health, in light of the findings in the report, SACN recommended that the definition of free sugars and the AOAC definition of fibre should be adopted in the UK, replacing non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) and non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) respectively. For the first time, the NDNS RP includes descriptive statistics for free sugars and AOAC fibre intakes for all paired years and in all age groups. It also includes further details of the classification and methodology for determining free sugars and AOAC fibre values in the NDNS RP. These values were derived for foods in the NDNS Nutrient Databank by MRC EWL and PHE using a new free sugar estimation method that MRC EWL developed.

Key findings

Mean intakes of free sugars were more than double the recommended maximum of no more than 5% of total energy in all age groups. Mean intakes of free sugars for children aged 4 to 10 years and 11 to 18 years and men aged 19 to 64 years were significantly lower in years 7&8 than in years 1&2. The fall in free sugars intake in children is at least partly attributable to a decline in consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks in both age groups.

Mean intakes of AOAC fibre in adults were 15-21g, below the recommendation of 30g. In children aged 4 to 18 years mean intakes were 14-16g, in children aged 1.5 to 3 years 10g, which are below the age-adjusted recommendations for each age group.

Foods consumed and nutrient intakes for adults aged 65 to 74 years and 75 year and over

For the first time in the NDNS RP, results for food and nutrient intakes are presented for the 65 years and over age group split into those aged 65 to 74 years and those aged 75 years and over so that these two broad age groups can be considered in more detail.

Key findings

Mean intake of saturated fatty acids exceeded the recommendation (no more than 11% food energy) in all older age/sex groups; 13.1% for adults aged 65 to 74 years and 14.6% for adults aged 75 years and over. Mean intakes of free sugars exceeded the recommendation and mean AOAC fibre intakes fell below the recommendation for all older age and sex groups.

Mean daily intakes of most vitamins from food sources were close to or above the recommendation (RNI) for all the older age/sex groups. However, mean vitamin D intakes from food sources were below the recommendation of 10µg/day in all older age groups (35% of the RNI for adults aged 65 to 74 years and 28% of the RNI for adults aged 75 years and over).

Mean intakes of minerals were close to or above the recommendations (RNI) for all older age/sex groups with the exception of magnesium (range 76% to 95% of RNI), potassium (64% to 91% of RNI) and selenium (58% to 72% of RNI).

Mean consumption of fruit and vegetables in Years 7 and 8 (combined) was 4.3 portions per day for adults aged 65 to 74 years and 3.4 portions per day for adults aged 75 years and over.  Thirty-one per cent of men and 32% of women aged 65 to 74 years, 18% of men and 20% of women aged 75 years and over met the “5 A Day” recommendation.  Consumption of oily fish in both older age groups was below the recommended one portion (140g) per week.

Blood folate

The report also presents the latest results Years 5 and 6 (combined) (2012/13-2013/14) and Years 7 and 8 (combined) (2014/15-2015/16) alongside previous paired years for red blood cell folate, serum folate and unmetabolised (free) folic acid in serum.

Key findings

There was evidence of low blood folate levels indicating risk of anaemia in over a quarter (28%) of girls aged 11-18 years, 15% of boys aged 11-18 years and 7% of adults 19-64 years, based on red blood cell folate concentrations. Substantial proportions of all age/sex groups had red blood cell folate levels indicating risk of biochemical insufficiency based on raised homocysteine levels. Overall, between about a third and 60% had red blood cell folate levels below the estimated threshold range indicating biochemical folate insufficiency. These proportions were higher in older girls and women of childbearing age and lower in younger children. Over 90% of women of childbearing age had a red blood cell folate concentration below the threshold indicating elevated risk of neural tube defects

Urinary iodine

Urinary iodine measurement was introduced in Year 6 (2013/14) of the NDNS RP. Commentary in the report is based on three years data: Year 6 only and Years 7 and 8 (combined) for all age groups including women of childbearing age (16 to 49 years).

Key findings

Analysis of urinary iodine concentrations showed that all age/sex groups met the WHO criteria for adequate iodine status, i.e. median urinary iodine concentrations between 100 and 199µg/l and fewer than 20% of the population were below 50µg

NDNS Data

The NDNS data will be available on the UK Data Archive shortly.

Next NDNS RP reports

Separate reports for the UK, Northern Ireland and Wales, combining Years 5 to 9 (2012/2013 – 2016/2017), are expected later this year.

The future of the NDNS RP Years 11 to 14

The contract to provide the next four years (Years 11 to 14: 2018/19 to 2021/22) of the NDNS RP has been awarded to MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge and NatCen Social Research. Further details can be found here.