National Diet and Nutrition Survey: results from Years 1 to 4 (combined) Rolling Programme

The results of the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey Years 1-4 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009-2011/12) have been published, highlighting that the UK population is still consuming too much added sugars, saturated fat and salt.

The nationally representative survey, which analysed the diets of children and adults living in private UK households also found that the population was not eating enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish or fibre. Total fat and trans fats were in line with recommendations, whilst all age groups were found to be at an increased risk of Vitamin D deficiency, with females at an increased risk of iron deficiency.

For the first time, 24 hour urinary sodium was measured in young children and adults over 65 years, the gold standard for assessing total salt intake.

  •  For adults over 65 years, the average salt intake totalled 7.2g/day for males and females, 17% higher than the 6g/day target set by SACN, with a total salt intake of 8.3g/day for men and 6.4g/day for women.
  • The mean salt intake for children, exceeded recommendations for all age groups except for girls aged 7-10 years. For children aged:    

            -  4-6 years: mean 3.7g/day of which 3.8g/day (boys), 3.6g/day (girls); 
            -  7-10 years: mean 5.0g/day of which 5.5g/day (boys) and 4.6g/day (girls);
            -  11-18 years: mean 6.6g/day of which 7.1g/day (boys) and 6.2g/day (girls).

In each group, males had higher mean 24-hr urinary sodium excretion than females and at least 34% of the population in each age group exceeded the recommended maximum salt intake for their age group. 

This highlights the need for continued efforts in salt reduction within food industry. Most of our salt intake comes from the food we buy, with processed foods contributing to 75% of our daily salt intake. Reformulation efforts so far have proven successful in helping to reduce the population’s intake, with a 15% reduction from 9.5g in 2000/01 to 8.1g in 2011, but more must be done. It is estimated that reducing population salt intakes by just 1g will prevent 4,147 premature deaths and save the NHS nearly £300 million a year.

The government have recently published new salt targets for food industry to achieve by 2017, with separate targets for the out of home sector. For more information about the targets, and to see who has signed up, please visit the Department of Health website.

To see the full NDNS report, click here.