Diet & Lifestyle Stats

dietandlifestyle-imageSurveys are regularly commissioned to provide insights into consumption behaviours at population level.  This information helps to guide policy makers with decisions about public health initiatives.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) is a government-commissioned survey which has been carried out as a rolling annual programme since 2008.  It includes data from those aged over 18 months who live in private UK households.  The findings provide a population-level indication of dietary consumption levels, to identify areas for public health improvement.

The Children’s Dental Health Survey is commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and has been carried out each decade since 1973.  It provides statistical estimates on the dental health of 5, 8, 12 and 15 year old children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Health Survey for England (HSE) has measured health and health-related behaviours in adults and children across England annually since 1991, and provides important trend data into adult obesity.

National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS)


Key findings from the latest survey data published in 2014:

Only 30% of adults (aged 19-64 years) and 41% of older adults (those aged over 65 years) met the 5-a-day recommendation.

Mean energy intakes were below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for adults and children aged 11 years and over, however there is evidence of dietary under-reporting in these age groups.

Mean reported total energy intakes by age:
1126 kcal/day for children aged 1.5 to 3 years
1532 kcal/day for children aged 4 to 10 years
1972 kcal/day for boys aged 11 to 18 years
1569 kcal/day for girls aged 11 to 18 years
2111 kcal/day for men aged 19 to 64 years
1613 kcal/day for women aged 19 to 64 years
1935 kcal/day for men aged over 65 years
1510 kcal/day for women aged over 65 years

Mean total carbohydrate intakes ranged from 47.2% food energy (adults aged 65 years and over) to 52.1% (children aged four to ten years), compared with the Dietary Reference Value (DRV) of 50%.

Mean intake of non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) exceeded the DRV of no more than 11% of food energy across all age/sex groups.  In particular, in children aged four to ten years (14.7%) and aged 11 to 18 years (15.6%).

Main source of NMES for children: soft drinks and fruit juice, cereal and cereal products (primarily cakes, biscuits and cereal products).
Main source of NMES for adults: table sugar and confectionery, soft drinks and fruit juice, and cereals and cereal products (primarily cakes and biscuits).

Mean protein intakes provided 14-15% of food energy for children and 17-18% for adults, compared with the DRV of 15% of food energy.

Mean intake of total fat met the DRV (no more than 35% food energy) in all age/sex groups except for men aged 65 years and over where on average total fat provided 36% food energy.

Mean intake of saturated fat exceeded the DRV (no more than 11% food energy) in all age/sex groups, in particular 12.6% for adults aged 19 to 64 years and 13.8% for adults aged 65 years and over.

Access the full report here

Children's Dental Health Survey


A substantial change in the levels of dental decay was observed among children in the Children’s Dental Health Surveys of 1973 and 2003, where there was a reduction in DMFT (decayed missing and filled teeth) from 4.8 to 0.7 in 12 year olds. This reduction was widely attributed to the introduction of fluoride toothpaste in the late 1970’s*.

Key 2013 findings:

  • reductions noted between the 2003 and 2013 surveys in extent and severity of tooth decay found in permanent teeth (12 and 15 year olds overall in England, Wales and Northern Ireland). Large proportions of children, however, continue to be affected by the disease, and the burden of disease is substantial in those children that have it.
  • in 2013, 46% of 15 year olds and 34% of 12 year olds had “obvious decay experience” in their permanent teeth (reduced from 2003, when the comparable figures were 56% and 43% respectively).
  • children from lower income families (eligible for free school meals) are more likely to have oral disease than other children of the same age.
  • 58% of 12 year olds and 45% of 15 year olds reported that their daily life had been affected by problems with their teeth and mouth in the past three months.

Access the full 2013 report here

* Cottrell, R. C. (2011) Dental disease: Etiology and epidemiology. IN CABALLERO, B., ALLEN, N. & PRENTICE, A. M. (Eds.) Encyclopaedia of Human Nutrition. 2nd Edition ed. Kidlington, UK, Elsevier Academic Press.

Health Survey for England (HSE) 2014


Key obesity findings:

  • around a quarter of adults in 2014 were obese (24% of men and 27% of women)
  • being overweight was more common than being obese – 41% of men and 31% of women were overweight, but not obese
  • both BMI and waist circumference are considered in the calculation of health risk from overweight and obesity. Based on this, 34% of men and 43% of women were in the high or very high risk categories for obesity related chronic disease

Rates of overweight and obesity were similar in 2014 to recent years.  Prevalence of obesity increased sharply between 1993 and 2000, with a slower rate of increase noted between 2000 and 2006.  Since then obesity prevalence has remained at a similar level*.

Access the full report here 

(Data published Dec 2015)
* HSCIC (2015) (accessed 08/01/2016)

Health professionals