THE GREAT DIETARY DOWNTURN. NEW RESEARCH SHOWS THAT DIET QUALITY HAS DECLINED IN THE UK OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS.

UK DIETARY INTAKES HAVE DETERIORATED IN THE LAST 20 YEARS TO THE DETRIMENT OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS.  Now in a wake-up call to the nation, a new study published in the Journal of Vitamins and Minerals[1] based on a new analysis from two major UK dietary government surveys shows that intakes of ten key micronutrients have receded over the last two decades.

The publication analysed data from two major government dietary surveys – The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Family Food Survey and Public Health England’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme (NDNS-RP).

The new research from the HEALTH & FOOD SUPPLEMENTS INFORMATION SERVICE (HSIS) revealed the stark reality of a significant vitamin and mineral downturn of some major nutrients across all population groups; micronutrients that we all need daily to fuel our bodies and to ensure good health. The ten nutrients are:

  • Vitamin A – reduced by 21% and many women of child bearing age are not meeting even minimum targets for vitamin A
  • Vitamin D – despite government advice on supplementation intakes reduced by 22%
  • Riboflavin – reduced by 11%
  • Folate – reduced by 10% with 90% of women of child bearing age having intakes that could put their unborn children at risk of birth defects
  • Calcium – reduced by 10%
  • Iron – reduced by 5%. Ten times more older women are not meeting the minimum dietary target for iron. Almost one third of teenagers also fail to achieve this minimum
  • Potassium – reduced by 4%
  • Intakes of magnesium, iodine and selenium have also fallen.

Data in the same publication also revealed:

  • Despite the high-profile 5 A Day fruit and vegetable campaign launched 16 years ago –more than two thirds (69%) of adults aged 19-64 fail to eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.1, [2]
  • Oily fish consumption has not improved in the last 20 years, remaining consistently below optimal levels.
  • Intakes of fibre (roughage) are also below recommended levels, probably as a reflection of poor fruit and vegetable intakes and low levels of wholegrain foods.

These findings emphasize the urgency to improve the quality of UK diets and the very real likelihood of a surge in chronic illnesses and premature mortality in years to come.  Younger people should be warned that unless they improve their diets now, they face a significantly increased risk of serious health issues by the time they reach middle age, along with a reduced life expectancy.


[1] Derbyshire EJ (2019) UK Dietary Changes Over the Last Two Decades: A Focus on Vitamin and Minerals Intakes. J Vitam Miner 2: 104. https://www.gavinpublishers.com/journals/artical_in_press/journal-of-vitamins-and-minerals

 [2] State of the nation: Dietary trends in the UK – 20 years on. Where are we and where are we going? Published Summer 2019 ©2019.

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