Key points

  • Requirements for energy and nutrients do not change greatly between the ages of 19 and 50 years, except during pregnancy or lactation but do vary according to gender and activity levels.
  • In England, 44% of men and 34% of women are overweight (a BMI of 25-30 kg/m2), and an additional 22% of men and 23% of women are obese (a BMI of more than 30 kg/m2), according to Department of Health's Health Survey for England 2006.
  • Adults should achieve a total of at least 30 minutes a day of at least moderate intensity exercise at least 5 days a week. This will deliver a range of health benefits.
  • On average, the diet of UK adults provides more than enough of most nutrients, but intakes of some vitamins and minerals have been shown to be low in some age/sex groups e.g. iron in young women.
  • The percentage of energy derived from saturated fatty acids is higher than recommended (although total fat intake is close to recommendations), and the average diet contains too little fibre and too much salt. Average intake of added sugars is also higher than the target.
  • Several nutrients may be of particular importance for women’s health including iron, calcium and folate. Nutrients of particular relevance for men include selenium and lycopene which may play role in protecting against prostate cancer.

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