Diet and Nutrition surveys are conducted by Food Standards Agency and Department of Health. These surveys are usually conducted on various age groups for their eating habits and life styles so that some strategies can be put in place to overcome the problems of obesity and overweight and improve the overall health of the people. These age groups can be classified as
- Adults- 19-64 years
- Young People- 4-18 years
- Senior Citizens- 65 years and above
These studies provide general information about dietary habits and nutritional status in various age groups. Main objectives of these studies are-
To provide the detailed information on the intake of food and the nutrients
Sources of various nutrients
The effect of specific nutrients
To determine characteristic of various individuals consuming specific nutrients
To assess physical activity and relate it to the dietary intake
To determine the relationship between diet and nutritional status
To assess physical activity and relate it to dietary intake.
To provide height, weight and other body measurements and examine their relationship with dietary and health data
To monitor the diet of the population as per the age groups and establish the extent to which it is nutritious
To assess the food chemical risk by calculating likely dietary intakes of natural toxicants, additives and contaminants.
The survey has the following elements:-
Initial face to face interview. This includes questions on general eating habits and health
A weeks record on physical activity
Questionnaire on eating behavior
Measurements of blood pressure
24 hour urine collection
A weeks bowel movement record
Blood samples must be taken by a qualified nurse. Blood and urine samples were analyzed by the Human Nutrition Research Unit.
There was a major research undertaken for the adults in various parts around the world. These diet nutrition surveys are conducted to provide the understanding of Dietary intakes of adults and improve the nutritional health.
The major findings of diet nutrition surveys on nutrient intakes is as follows-
Two-thirds of the population regularly consumed supplements. These included nutritional as well as non-nutritional supplements.
Most of the people fell within the acceptable range of total fat, but about one-quarter were consuming more than 35% of their energy from fats.
Most of the people we having adequate amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and phosphorous. But there was an inadequate intake of folate, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 which was a potential public health concern.
The intake of fiber and calcium were below the recommended level for all the age and sex groups.
Population is becoming more overweight and the use of supplements is high.
For many, food insecurity is a major issue
Diabetes is a great health problem. Almost 40% of the people over the age of 45 suffer from this disease and it may go upto 60% in the near future. This will also lead to other problems such as heart diseases, blindness and amputation.
The use of tobacco products is increasing at the alarming rate especially among the youths which can lead to serious heart and dental problems.
A diet nutrition survey was also conducted for the low income group people and it has the following finding:-
The low income population did not each whole wheat products.
They drank more sugary drinks and consumed much more table sugar
Most of the adults are getting the daily dose of energy from saturated fats.
51% men and 69% women did not consume the minimum recommended intake of dietary fiber.
Two thirds of men and women had high levels of cholesterol and were at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.
There are higher levels of smoking and drinking along with lower levels of physical activity within this low income group.
Based on the surveys, it is recommended-
- Take lots of fruits, vegetables and legumes
- Take plenty of wholegrain foods and cereals
- Consume less salt
- Drink plenty of water
- Limit the consumption of saturated fat
- Limit total fat intake
- Exercise regularly
- Limit the consumption of alcohol
In one of the surveys conducted by American Dietetic Association (ADA) including a large sample of adults to identify the general attitude, knowledge and beliefs about nutrition, eating and dietary habits. The results are as follows-
85% said that diet and nutrition are important to them personally
75% said that they select their foods carefully to achieve a healthy diet
38% said that they have significantly adjusted their eating habits in past two years.