Skip to main content
National Statistics
Publication

Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2019

This is part of

National statistics
Publication date:
Geographic coverage:
England
Geographical granularity:
Local Authorities, Regions, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships
Date range:
01 Apr 2017 to 31 Dec 2018

Part 6: Diet

Poor diet and nutrition are recognised as major contributory risk factors for ill health and premature death. Current UK diet and nutrition recommendations include:

  • At least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day for those aged 11 years and over.
  • For adults (ages 19 and over), average intakes of red and processed meat should not exceed 70 grams per day.
  • At least 1 portion of oily fish (140 grams) per week for all ages (equivalent to 20 grams per day).
  • Limit free sugars to no more than 5% of daily calorie intake.
  • Limit saturated fat intake to no more than 11% of daily calorie intake.

Full details can be found at the following link:

The information for this section comes from three major national surveys:

  • Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF) from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), as reported in Family Food 2016/17. The LCF collects information on the type and quantity of food and drink purchased in households.
  • Data on fruit and vegetable consumption are taken from the Health Survey for England (HSE), covering children aged 5 to 15, and adults aged 16 and over.
  • Other food consumption data are taken from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) published by Public Health England. This is a continuous, cross-sectional survey of the UK population aged 1.5 and over. Results are currently published every 2 years, using the most recent 2 years of data, the latest being for 2014/15 and 2015/16. Additionally, time trend analysis including the 2016/17 data was publshed for the first time this year (January 2019).

 

Food and drink expenditure and purchases

Expenditure per week

In 2016/17 the amount that an average household spent on all food and drink, including alcoholic drinks and food eaten out was £43.18 per person per week. When inflation is taken into account, the amount spent was 1.1 per cent more than 2015 and 0.1 per cent more than 2013. Household food and non-alcoholic drink purchases formed the largest share at £26.34 per person per week.

Image showing breakdown of household expenditure

The percentage of spend on food continues to be highest for households with the lowest 20% of income, at 14.3% in 2016/17, although the gap is closing. Food is the largest item of household expenditure for low income households, after housing, fuel and power costs.

 

Trends in household purchases

  • Milk purchases have generally declined in the last 10 years. In the most recent couple of years of estimates whole milk has increased slightly, but the long term dominance of skimmed milk remains.
  • Purchases of chicken have increased over the last 10 years and were the most popular unprocessed meat product in 2016/17. This was followed by beef which has remained fairly stable in recent years.
  • Ready meals and convenience meat products continue their clear upward trend, with a highest ever estimate in 2016/17.
  • Household purchases of fish and fish products have fallen steadily since 2006 with a 6% fall over the last four years. 
  • Fresh green vegetables have shown a slight downward trend, offset by a 5% increase in purchases of other fresh vegetables since 2013. Purchases of processed vegetables, which account for about 30% of the total, have been largely stable despite fluctuating in the most recent few years.
  • Potato purchases continued their long term downward trend, with an 8.8% reduction since 2013. 
  • Purchases of fats have fallen steadily since 2010.
  • Purchases of bread are on a long term downward trend, with white bread falling by 35% over the last 10 years. Purchases of brown and wholemeal bread have also fallen over the same period but at a much lower rate. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For more data/information on this section: 

 

 

Adult fruit and vegetable consumption

Proportion consuming 5 or more portions a day

In 2017, 29% of adults were eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Women were more likely to do so than men.

Image showing the proportions eating 5+ portions a day by gender

 

Portions eaten per day

The mean number of portions of fruit and vegetables consumed by adults between 2009 and 2016 ranged between 3.5 and 3.6 per day. In 2017 it was slightly higher at 3.8 portions per day.

Consumption varied with age, young people aged 16 to 24 consumed on average the lowest number of portions of fruit and vegetables, 3.3 a day, and were the least likely age group to eat their five a day recommendation, 23%.

Chart showing the proportions per day by age group

 

Daily fruit consumption, UK comparison with other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries1

Amongst OECD countries, the UK reported the 9th (of 34) highest proportion of the population consuming at least one portion of fruit per day (63%). Australia reported the highest proportion with 99%2, whilst Finland and Latvia reported less than 35%. 

Chart showing the proportion consuming one or more portions of fruit per day by OECD country

 

Daily vegetable consumption, UK comparison with other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries1

Amongst OECD countries, the UK reported the 10th (of 34) highest proportion of the population consuming at least one portion of vegetables per day (66%). Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the United States reported the highest proportions (all above 90%)2. Netherlands and Germany reported less than 35%. 

Chart showing the proportion consuming one or more portions of vegetables per day by OECD country

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1. For most countries data is based on persons aged 15+. Data is for 2016 or nearest available year.

2. Data for Australia, Korea and New Zealand are derived from quantity-type questions. Data for the United States on fruit consumption include juice made from concentrate. In these countries, values may be overestimated as compared with other countries.

For more data/information on this section: 

 

 

Childhood fruit and vegetable consumption

Proportion consuming 5 or more portions a day

In 2017, 18% of children aged between 5 and 15 ate the recommended five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Results were similar for boys and girls.

The proportion of children eating five or more portions per day was 11% in 2003 and then increased to 21% in 2006. Since 2007, the prevalence of eating five or more portions has varied between 16% and 23% with no clear trend.

Chart showing the proportion consuming 5 a day by year

 

Portions eaten per day

More children consumed fewer than 3 portions a day (51%) than met the recommended 5 portions (18%).

Chart showing portions eaten per day

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For more data/information on this section: 

 

 

Food and nutrition intake

Free sugars intake1,2

Mean intake of free sugars exceeded the government recommendation of providing no more than 5% of total calorie intake in all age groups. 

The latest time trend analysis shows the percentage has fallen in children between 2008/09 and 2016/17 by 2.4-3.5 percentage points in each age group, and by 1.2 percentage points in adults.

Chart showing free sugars intake as a percent of total calories by age group and gender

 

Saturated fatty acids intake1

Mean intake of saturated fats exceeded the recommendation of no more than 11% of total calorie intake in all age groups. 

Overall, the percentage showed no change between 2008/09 and 2016/17.

Chart showing saturated fat intake as a percent of total calories by age group and gender

 

Oily fish intake1

Mean consumption of oily fish for all age groups was well below the recommended level of at least one portion per week (equivalent to 20 grams per day).

There was generally little change in oily fish consumption over time.

Chart showing oily fish intake by age group and gender

 

Red and processed meat intake1

Mean consumption of red and processed meat for women (aged 19-64 and 65+) met the current maximum recommendation (70 grams or less per day). Mean consumption by adult men exceeded the recommendation3

Consumption has shown a downward trend. For adults aged 19 to 64 years consumption declined by 19g over nine years from 2008/09 to 2016/17. For children aged 11 to18 years there was a decline of 15g and adults 65 years and over 11g over the same period.

Chart showing red and processed meat intake by age group and gender

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1. Data is for the United Kingdom. Charts are based on the latest published 2 year survey, which covers 2014/15 and 2015/16. Time trend analysis is available to 2016/17.  See source publication for more details.  

2. Free sugars include all added sugars, sugars naturally present in fruit and vegetable juices, purees and pastes, and all sugars in drinks other than from dairy sources.

3. Maximum recommendation is for adults aged 19+ only, though data for ages 1.5 to 18 is also shown.

For more data/information on this section: 

Last edited: 10 April 2019 3:45 pm