Public Health England report details the state of the nation’s diet.
A newly published report on the state of the nation’s diet has found that many people are eating well over the recommended amount of sugar each day.
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) produced by Public Health England includes figures collected from 2014 to 2016.
The findings included that sugar makes up 13.5% of 4 to 10-year-olds, and 14.1% of teenagers’ (11 to 18-year-olds) daily calorie intake respectively - almost three times the recommended amount.
The official recommendation from the government is to limit sugar to no more than 5% - around 30g or seven cubes of sugar per day.
A diet including too much sugar can lead to obesity and related health complications, including type 2 diabetes.
However, the amount of sugary drinks consumed by young people was down, with children aged 4-10 reported to consume two thirds of the amount of sugary drinks they did eight years ago – down from 130g per day in 2008 to 2010 to 83g in 2014 to 2016.
For teenagers, sugary drink intake was more than double that of younger children (191g) although their consumption of sweet drinks was reported to have decreased by 30%. However, sugary drinks remained the main source of sugar in their diets – at 22%.
The survey confirmed that the UK population was still eating too much saturated fat and not enough fruit, vegetables, and fibre.
The report found that the average saturated fat intake for adults, aged 19 to 64, made up 12.5% of their daily calorie intake, more than the 11% recommended maximum.
The recommend “five-a-day” portions of fruit and vegetables each day was not being reached, with just 31% of adults, 32% of 65- to 74-year-olds and 8% of teenagers meeting this target.
Adults aged 19 to 64 ate a reported average 4.2 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Older people, aged 65 to 74 ate 4.3 portions and teenagers ate just 2.7 portions per day.
The amount of fibre eaten was also well below the recommended 30g per day – with adults eating on average 19g per day.
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “Poor diets are all too common in this country and, along with obesity, are now one of the leading causes of disease such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It is clear from these data that the nation’s diet needs an overhaul.
“A healthy balanced diet is the foundation to good health. Eating “five-a-day” and reducing our intake of calories, sugar, and saturated fat is what many of us need to do to reduce the risk of long term health problems.”
The study backs up Public Health England’s call for the population to follow a healthy balanced diet, based on the Eatwell Guide, which includes eating at least “five-a-day” portions of fruit and vegetables, including more oily fish and fibre in your diet and limiting the amount food high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.
Following a healthy, balanced diet and reducing calories will help reduce obesity and the economic and social burden of its consequences.
Read the report
Find out more about type 2 diabetes
Read the DRWF leaflet A healthy diet and diabetes