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The latest NDNS survey is out today!  The new survey (Years 5 and 6 – 2012/13-2013/14) will be met with disappointment and possibly frustration by many public health campaigners.

The Brits have done little to improve their intakes of essential nutrients despite significant government and NGO campaigns. We’re still eating too much sugar and saturated fat and seem to be unable to increase our fruit and vegetable, fibre and essential vitamin and mineral intakes. On a positive, and there was only one positive, we are reducing our intakes of red and processed meats. And at least our diets have not got worse. But the question remains, with little dietary improvements over the last 10 years, what really needs to be done to help the nation change their eating behaviour and nudge them into a healthier and happier life?

  • Brits still struggling to meet their 5-a-day with no improvements in consumption compared to previous years:
    • Just 8% of children and less than a third (27%) adults achieving their 5-a-day.
    • Children’s average intake is less than 3 portions per day, whilst adults are so close to the recommendations at 4 portions a day.
  • Heart healthy omega-3 and much needed vitamin D intakes cannot be expected to improve with oil-rich fish consumption continuing to fall short of the recommended 140g per day.
    • Brits are only managing 62% of the recommendations at a max of 87g per day.
  • The message is getting through about red and processed meat with reductions in intakes from previous years.  However, men need to make further improvements as their intakes are significantly higher than women’s and the maximum recommendations of no more than 70g per day of red meat and avoidance of processed meat.
  • Could the sugar reduction public health campaigns be making some small inroads to reducing added sugar intakes in children?
    • Let’s not get too excited, but 4-10 year olds have reduced their intakes by 1% compared to previous years (13.4% of total energy intake vs. 14.4%).
    • Unfortunately, teens and adults continue on their sweet ways with intakes remaining unchanged at 15.2% and 12.3% contribution to total energy intakes.
    • Intakes are a long way from meeting the SACN recommendations of no more than 5%!  Is sugar tax really going to be the solution?
  • The attack on sweetened soft drinks seems to have made an impact on 4-10 year old’s intakes with a 23% reduction in amount consumed daily compared to previous years (100g vs 130g respectively).
    • Unfortunately, adults and teens refuse to be told what to do and continue to struggle with the sweet nectar!
  • Could the misleading media headlines ‘butter is good for you’ be responsible for the population continuing to exceed saturated fat intake recommendations (11% of total energy intake) and in fact have higher intakes than previous years.
    • The latest data shows saturated fat to contribute to 12.7% of total energy intake, whilst in previous years it has been at 12.3-12.5%.  A major contributor to elevated ‘bad’ cholesterol which afflicts over half the adult population.
  • Fibre – another new government dietary recommendation doomed for failure! Although less publicity has been given to fibre, the SACN carbohydrate report did not only make new recommendations on sugar intakes but also recommended a significant increase in fibre intakes to 30g AOAC (23g non-starch polysaccharides NSP).
    • The nation continues to struggle to meet the previous recommendations of 18g NSP per day with adults making no improvements to previous years at 13-14g NSP intakes daily.
    • It would be great to see a public campaign for us to eat MORE of something rather than to deprive ourselves!
  • Is it time for mandatory vitamin D fortification?  The survey found around a fifth of adults with low vitamin D status and with an average level of 42-48nnmol/L.
    • Few have the optimal status as recommended by many vitamin D experts of 50-70nnmol/L.
  • Fatigue and tiredness in teenage girls and young women could be explained by continued poor iron intakes, with almost half of teenage girls and over a quarter (27%) of young women having iron intake below the lower reference nutrient intake.




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