The first report of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) Rolling Programme was published in February 2010, in July 2011 the second year of results were published.  The full combined report is available here.



The NDNS Rolling Programme is a continuous cross-sectional survey (i.e. a sample of people within a population) of the food consumption, nutrient intakes and nutritional status of people aged 18 months and older living in the UK.

The survey is carried out on behalf of the Department of Health by a consortium of three organisations: the Health Group at the National Centre for Social Research, Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research, and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Royal Free and University College London Medical School.

The Department of Health primarily use the data to develop, implement and monitor policies to improve the nation’s diet and nutritional status (e.g. within the Public Health Responsibility Deal), and to support risk assessments for food chemicals to protect consumer safety.  The data are also used extensively by researchers, other Government departments, the food industry, health professionals and others to inform their work.
Survey methodology

The Year 1 data were collected between February 2008 and June 2009 and for year 2 the data was collected between April 2009 and August 2010.  To obtain a representative sample of the UK population, households were selected randomly from 130 geographical areas across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  One adult and a child, or a child only, were selected at random from each household and invited to take part.
The first stage of the survey comprised a face-to-face interview with each participant, completion of a 4-day food diary and measurements of height and weight.  A variety of other information was collected too, including information on shopping and food preparation practices, cooking skills, housing tenure and employment.  People that completed the first stage were invited to give physical activity measures, a blood sample, and a 24-hour urine sample.

The survey methodology being used for the NDNS Rolling Programme is different to that used in previous NDNS surveys.  Differences in survey methodology include:


  • Data is collected each year for all age groups, hence ‘rolling programme’.  Whereas in the past data was collected at one point in time for a particular age group, and done so at irregular intervals.
  • A 4-day estimated (un-weighed) food diary is now used in place of a 7-day weighed food diary, primarily to make the process easier for participants.
  • Composite dishes (i.e. dishes with multiple food components, such as lasagne) are disaggregated into their separate ingredients to give a more accurate estimate of actual food types consumed (e.g. for meat, vegetables etc).


Differences in the combined report from the year 1 report

The combined report has developed since the year 1 report in the following ways:

  • The data collected from year 1 has been added to year 2 to provide a larger sample size of 1031 adults and 1095 children (Year 1 findings were based on approximately 500 adults and 500 children).
  • The analysis is based on a more balanced distribution of days of the week than in the year 1 report. However, there is still a slightly higher proportion of weekend days than week days. therefore there may still be some bias but this should be further reduced when the year 3 data is included.


Findings from Years 1 and 2 (combined)

The combined results suggest that the overarching results have not changed much from previous reports between 1992 and 2001 and the current report did not identify any new nutritional issues in the population. Intakes of both saturated fat and sugar remain above the recommended levels.
The key findings as summarised by the Department of Health are:

  • Adults aged 19 to 64 years on average consumed 4.2 portions of fruit and vegetables per day and older adults 4.4 portions. Thirty per cent of adults and 37% of older adults met the five-a-day recommendation.
  • Mean consumption of fruit and vegetables was 3.1 portions per day for boys aged 11 to 18 years and 2.7 portions per day for girls. Thirteen per cent of boys and 7% of girls in this age group met the five-a-day recommendation.
  • The majority of participants did not eat oily fish during the four-day diary period and mean consumption was well below recommended one portion per week in all age groups.
  • Mean energy intakes for adults were 1918 kcal/day for adults aged 19 to 64 years and 1721 kcal per day for adults aged 65 years and over. In children mean energy intakes ranged from 1127kcal per day for children aged 1.5 to three years, 1556 kcal per day for children aged four to 10 years and 1827 kcal per day for children aged 11 to 18 years.
  • Mean intake of total fat met the Dietary Reference Value (DRV) (no more than 35% food energy) in all age/sex groups except for women aged 65 years and over and men aged 65 years and over for whom, on average, total fat provided 35.9% and 37.1% food energy respectively.
  • Mean intakes of saturated fat exceeded the DRV (no more than 11% food energy) in all age groups. Mean saturated fat intake for adults 19 to 64 years was 12.8% food energy.
  • Mean intakes of trans fatty acids provided 0.7-0.9% of food energy for all age groups, thus meeting the DRV (no more than 2% food energy).
  • Mean Non Milk Extrinsic Sugars (NMES) intakes exceeded the DRV (no more than 11% food energy) for children aged four to 18 years and adults aged 19 to 64 years. Soft drinks were the largest contributor to NMES intake for children aged four to 18 years.
  • Sixty-one per cent of adults aged 19 to 64 years and 53% of older adults aged 65 years and over consumed alcohol during the four-day recording period. Adults who consumed alcohol during the four-day recording period obtained 9% of energy intake from alcohol in the 19 to 64 age group and 6% in the 65 years and over group.
  • Mean intakes of Non-Starch Polysaccharide (NSP) were below the adult DRV (at least 18g per day) for all age groups.
  • Mean intakes of vitamins (except vitamin D) from food sources were close to or above the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI)i for all groups. Twelve per cent of children aged 11 to 18 years had vitamin A and riboflavin intakes below the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake (LRNI)The contribution of dietary supplements did not reduce the proportions of the population below the LRNI.
  • Mean intakes of minerals from food sources were below the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for some age groups, in particular children aged 11 to 18 years and a substantial proportion of this age group, particularly girls, had intakes below the LRNI. Mean intakes of iron were below the RNI for girls aged 11 to 18 years and women aged 19 to 64 years and 44% of girls and 22% of women were below the LRNI. Use of supplements had little effect on the proportions below the LRNI. Mean intakes of minerals in younger children aged under 10 years were above RNIs and few children in this age group had intakes below the LRNI.
  • A quarter of adults aged 19 to 64 years and more than a third of adults aged 65 years and over reported taking at least one dietary supplement during the four-day recording period.


Looking ahead

•    The blood analytical results for both adults and children aged 11+ years are expected to be published in Autumn 2011, which will show the nutritional status of participants in both years 1 and 2.
•    The combined results for years 1-3 are planned for summer of 2012, as the sample size will have increased since the year 1 and 2 which will give rise to more robust results.
•    There are also plans to produce another report due in 2012 which will assess salt intakes in adults aged 19 to 64 years in England based on urinary sodium excretion data collected in autumn 2011.

Last reviewed 19/12/2011. Next due for review 19/12/2014


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