Saturated fat and sugar consumption down in the UK

Posted by Josette Dunn on 10th February 2010

British consumers are eating less saturated fat, less trans fat and less added sugar than they were 10 years ago, according to results published in the first annual National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS).

The UK Food Standards Agency announced yesterday that saturated fat intakes in adults have dropped slightly to 12.8% of food energy, compared with 13.3% in 2000/01, and men and children are eating less added sugar.
These results reflect the vast improvement in public awareness and understanding of the health risks associated with obesity, and the relationship between high saturated fat and sugar consumption and weight gain.

It is expected that Australian consumption figures would tell the same story.  One only needs to look at the popularity of television programs such as The Biggest Loser, Masterchef, and What’s Good For You to see how important food and nutrition are to today’s consumers.

The study also showed that on average, adults in the UK are eating 4.4 portions of fruit and vegetables a day with over a third of men and women now meeting the ‘5-a-day’ guideline.

Other findings include:

  • People are still not eating enough fibre, which is essential for healthy digestion.
  • Consumption of oily fish, which is the main source of beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, remains low.
  • Iron intakes among girls aged 11 to 18 years and women are still low in many cases – which can lead to iron deficiency and anaemia. However, overall, vitamin and mineral intakes among the population are slightly improved.

Gill Fine, Director of Consumer Choice and Dietary Health at the FSA, said: ‘The results from the first year of our new NDNS rolling programme provide us with an interesting snapshot of the nation’s diet, and will allow us to track emerging trends over future years.’

She was pleased to see that people are eating more fruit and veggies, and less sugar and saturated fat, however she added that ‘there is obviously a way to go before we are meeting all the Government’s dietary recommendations.’

‘Good nutrition is important for health and poor diet accounts for a large percentage of premature deaths. We now need to build on the indications of positive change we have observed in this survey. By continuing our programme of campaign work and encouraging product reformulation in key areas such as saturated fat, we will hopefully observe further improvements over the next few years of the programme.’