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Action on Salt

National Diet and Nutrition Survey

The Survey

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) is a continuous cross-sectional survey funded by the Food Standards Agency and Public Health England. The survey collects detailed information about the food and drinks consumed, nutrient intakes and nutritional status of the UK population. All those aged 1.5 years and over living in private households are eligible to participate and a representative sample of around 1000 people are surveyed per year. 

The survey provides detailed food consumption data essential to support government activities related to health. It is the main method for monitoring salt, sugar and saturated fat intakes in the UK and is also key to monitoring progress on diet and nutrition objectives of UK health departments. The NDNS programme does not collect information on salt added at the table or during cooking.

Salt Intake

The last NDNS survey looking at dietary sources of salt in the diet (2020) has shown that in adults aged 19-64 years, white bread, bacon and ham are together the main contributors of salt in the UK diet. In fact, white bread is a top contributor across all age groups.

Sausages and cheese are also leading contributors in children's diets, while soup features more in the diets of those aged 75+ years. 

In March 2020, the latest NDNS survey of 2018/2019 provided an estimation of the salt intake of adults aged 19-64 years in England from the measurement of 24-hour urine collections. This report also presents a comparison of the estimated population salt intake over time since 2005/2006. The mean salt intake for adults was 8.4g per day, which is 40% higher than the recommended maximum of 6g per day. The average salt intake for men was higher than women at 9.2g/day and 7.6g/day respectively. No statistically significant changes in salt intake were observed between 2014 and 2018-2019. In fact, analysis suggests there is no statistically significant change in estimated population salt intake since 2004/2005.


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