The key objective of the NDNS RP is the collection of high quality dietary data from a representative sample of the UK population, specifically detailed and quantitative information on food consumption, nutrient intakes and sources of nutrients. These data (collected alongside detailed demographic information and assessment of physical activity) are vital to enable monitoring of the diet and nutritional intake of the UK population, and to provide the evidence base for developing and evaluating government policy.
Having used a paper food diary for the first 11 years of the programme, we have recently implemented use of the online 24 hour recall tool Intake24 for collection of dietary data in NDNS RP. Introduced in 2019, we are leading a parallel evaluation of the impact of this method change on the NDNS trend data series.
Information on nutritional status is also obtained through collection of blood and urine samples from NDNS participants which are analysed for a range of nutritional biomarkers by our Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory. Periodically, total energy expenditure is measured in a sub-study using the Doubly Labelled Water biomarker method.
The results of the NDNS RP are used to assess the adequacy of food and nutrient intake and nutritional status in different population groups. They are also used by government to develop policy and monitor progress on diet and nutrition objectives, such as work to move the public towards a healthier diet or tackling obesity. Food consumption data is also used by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to assess exposure to chemicals in food, this informs risk assessments and the setting of regulatory limits for contaminants.