National diet and nutrition survey divides experts

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

NDNS survey: children are consuming nearly three times as much sugar as their RDA
NDNS survey: children are consuming nearly three times as much sugar as their RDA

Related tags: Nutrition

The latest government survey on the dietary habits of the UK population has brought a mixture of encouragement and concern from nutrition experts.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), published last month by Public Health England, revealed that children aged four to 18 were consuming nearly three times as much sugar as their recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 5% of overall calorie intake.

However, the data showed sugar intake from soft drinks declined by 8% in teenagers. Meanwhile, free sugars fell in a number of age groups, while trans-fats continued to decline.

Fall in sugar intakes

Christine Williams, professor of human nutrition at the University of Reading and chair of trustees at the British Nutrition Foundation, said that the fall in sugar intakes in children was encouraging, especially as numbers of overweight people in this age group also appeared to be moderating.

“For all age groups, trans-fats are now very low and the levels reported almost certainly represent the small amount of trans-fats present in milk and dairy,”​ she said.

“Saturated fats remain above recommended levels but there has been a small drop in older age groups.”

‘Extremely worrying’

In contrast, Professor Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the results were “extremely worrying”​.

“At a time when one-in-three 10-year-old children are overweight or obese, the health risks posed by failure to tackle sugar intake are serious,”​ she said.

“This is why we are surprised the government’s childhood obesity strategy did not include a ban on advertising junk food and limiting its sale around schools.”

The Food and Drink Federation said producers were “taking steps to help customers towards dietary goals”​, but recognised that sugar consumption was still too high.

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