14 May 2014 - Report of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) rolling programme - Years 1, 2, 3 and 4 (2008/09-2011/12) - What's new?

The report of the NDNS rolling programme Years 1-4 (2008/09-2011/12) was published by Public Health England on 14 May 2014.

Below is a summary of findings of the 150-page report that have not been available in previous reports.

The latest results of the survey show that mean intakes of certain nutrients, namely saturated fat, non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) and salt, are still above dietary recommendations. Saturated fat is mainly coming from ‘milk and milk products’, ‘cereals and cereal products’ and ‘meat and meat products’ in adults and older children aged 11-18 years, whereas ‘milk and milk products’ was the largest contributor for younger children aged 4-10 years. Soft drinks provided 30% NMES intake in children aged 11-18 years, with ‘cereals and cereal products’ (i.e. cakes, biscuits and breakfast cereals) also contributing to intakes of this nutrient in older children.

Mean intakes of fruit and vegetables have not changed since the last report of the rolling programme (Years 1-3), with adults aged 19-64 years consuming on average 4.1 portions/day and children aged 11-18 years consuming 3.0 portions/day, failing to meet the 5 A DAY recommendation. Intakes of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP, ranging from 13.7g/day in adults aged 19-64 years to 13.9g/day in older adults aged 65 years and over) and oily fish (54g/week for adults aged 19-64 years) also fall below recommendations.

For the first time in the rolling programme, the report provides data on blood indices of nutritional status and salt intakes from 24-hour urinary sodium in young children (aged 1.5 to 10 years) and older adults (aged 65 years and over). Data is also presented on key foods and nutrients broken down into four age sub-groups: 11-15 years, 16-24 years, 25-49 years and 50-64 years. Comparisons have also been made within the rolling programme (i.e. Years 3&4 combined is compared with Years 1&2 combined).

Micronutrient status

  • Blood results indicate a substantial proportion of children and adults had a low biochemical riboflavin status, particularly children aged 11-18 years [15% of this age group had a mean intake below the lower reference nutrient intake (LRNI) – the amount judged to be adequate for only those with the lowest requirements (the lowest 2.5% of the population group)].
  • Evidence for an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency was found for all ages, with 23% of adults aged 19-64 years and 22% of children aged 11-18 years having low vitamin D status (increasing to 40% for adults and children in the winter months).
  • Intakes of iron below the LRNI were found in 46% of girls aged 11-18 years, 29% of women aged 25-49 years and 23% of women aged 19-64 years, with evidence of iron deficiency found in 4.9% of girls and 4.7% of women.

Salt intakes

Estimated salt intakes (based on 24-hour urinary excretion) for children and older adults exceed the SACN recommendations (except for girls aged 7-10 years). Estimated salt intakes for adults aged 19-64 years were previously published in 2012; the mean estimated salt intake for adults was 8.1g/day (9.3g/day for men and 6.8g/day for women).


  • Mean estimated salt intake for children aged 4-6 years was 3.7g/day
  • Mean estimated salt intake for children aged 7-10 years was 5.5g/day for boys and 4.6g/day for girls
  • Mean estimated salt intake for older children aged 11-18 years was 7.1g/day for boys and 6.2g/day for girls

Older adults

  • Mean estimated salt intake for older adults aged 65 years and over was 7.2g/day (8.3g/day for men and 6.4g/day for women), above the 6g/day recommendation

Results for age sub-groups

Results for key foods and nutrients have been broken down into four age sub-groups, subdivided by sex: 11-15 years, 16-24 years, 25-49 years and 50-64 years.

  • Average daily intake of total fat was close to the dietary reference value (DRV) for all age sub-groups, but mean daily intake of saturated fat exceeded the DRV for all age sub-groups.
  • Mean intake of NMES was highest in those aged 11-15 years and 16-24 years, and it exceeded the DRV in all age sub-groups (except for women aged 50-64 years).
  • For adults aged 25-49 years and 50-64 years, mean intakes of micronutrients including vitamin C, folate, iron and calcium were close to/above the RNI, except for iron in women aged 25-49 years (mean iron intake was 65% of the RNI; 29% of this age group had iron intakes below the LRNI).
  • Intakes of the above micronutrients were also close to/above the RNI in those aged 11-15 years and 16-24 years, with the exception of females had mean intakes below the RNI for calcium and iron (mean iron intake was below the LRNI for 44% of females aged 11-15 years and 40% of females aged 16-24 years; calcium intake was below the LRNI for 18% of females aged 11-15 years and 16% of females aged 16-24 years).
  • Daily fruit and vegetable consumption increased with age from 2.9 portions/day for children aged 11-15 years to 4.7 portions/day for adults aged 50-64 years. Consequently, 9% of 11-15 year olds met the 5 A DAY recommendation, compared to 38% of those aged 50-64 years.

Comparison within the rolling programme

  • Mean intakes of energy, total fat and saturated fat were found to be lower in Years 3&4 of the rolling programme compared to Years 1&2, significantly so for energy intake in adults aged 19-64 years and children aged 11-18 years.
  • Not surprisingly, the proportion of energy intake from total carbohydrate was higher in Years 3&4 than in Years 1&2, whereas energy intake from total fat was lower.
  • Average daily folate intake was significantly lower in Years 3&4 than in Years 1&2 for children aged 1.5-3 years, boys aged 4-10 years and adults aged 19-64 years.

Future work

The reports of findings for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are expected to be published during 2014/2015. The publication of these reports will include a comparison with findings for the UK as a whole.

Due to analytical issues, results for blood indices of folate status have been delayed; these results are expected to be published in 2015.


The NDNS rolling programme is a continuous cross-sectional survey, conducted annually, designed to assess the food consumption and nutritional status of a UK representative sample of 1,000 people per year (500 children, 500 adults) aged 18 months and older living in the UK. The survey is jointly funded by Public Health England (PHE) and the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The latest report presents results from the first 4 years of the programme (2008/2009 to 2011/2012) combined and supersedes the previous report published by Department of Health in July 2012 which covered the first 3 years.