Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
Nutrition is an important public health issue because of its role in obesity and many diet-related diseases. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) asks a sample of people across the UK to record what they have eaten. This is used by the UK government to look at the types of food people eat and the nutrients they take in. NDNS has been carried out every year since 2008 and this helps the government understand how the nation's diet is changing and make decisions that improve public health and protect food safety.
Who can participate?
Participants are randomly selected from private households in the UK.
What does the study involve?
The study has two stages all of which are carried out in the participant’s home. Individuals who take part in stage one do not have to take part in stage two. For stage one, individuals are asked by a trained interviewer about their eating habits, health and physical activity levels and have their height and weight measured. They are then asked to keep a food diary for four days and record everything they have to eat and drink in that period. They are also asked to provide a urine sample to test for iodine status. For stage two, a qualified nurse visits to measure their waist and hip circumference and take a blood sample to test for many nutrients including iron, vitamin D and cholesterol. All this takes place over two months.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Participants may benefit from receiving personalized feedback on their diet based on their food diary. They are also able to receive results from their blood sample which highlights any abnormal findings. There are no risks with participating.
Where is the study run from?
This study is being run by National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) (UK) and Medical Research Council Elsie Widdowson Laboratory (UK) and takes place in private households in the UK.
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
March 2007 to December 2018
Who is funding the study?
National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) (UK)
Who is the main contact?
1. Mrs Polly Page (Scientific)
2. Mrs Beverley Bates (Scientific)
Mrs Polly Page
MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory
120 Fulbourn Road
+44 1223 426356
Mrs Beverley Bates
NatCen Centre for Social Research
35 Northampton Square
+44 20 7250 1866
NDNS RP Main Protocol
National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme 2008/09 - 2017/18 (Years 1-10)
The purpose of the survey is to provide data to enable monitoring of the diet and nutritional well-being of the UK population to provide the evidence base for developing Government policy. Specifically, the NDNS dataset must allow Public Health England (PHE; previously Department of Health) and the Food Standards Agency to:
1. Measure progress towards dietary recommendations
2. Monitor trends in food consumption, nutrient intake and nutritional status in different population age groups
3. Describe the characteristics of those with intakes and/or status of specific nutrients that are above or below the national average
4. Assess the extent to which the diet of the population as a whole and sub-groups deviates from that recommended by independent experts
5. Calculate likely exposure to natural toxicants, contaminants, additives and other food chemicals for risk assessment
Years 1-5 - Oxford A REC, 30/03/2007, ref: 07/H0604/113
Years 6-10 - Cambridge South REC, 19/03/2013, ref: 13/EE/0016
Observational cross-sectional study using complex survey design and probability sampling model with a continuous UK-wide fieldwork model designed to be nationally representative on an annual basis
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Cross sectional study
Patient information sheet
Appendix C assessed from https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/ndns-results-from-years-5-and-6-combined
Diet and nutritional well-being of the UK population
The survey has two stages all of which are carried out in the participant’s home. Individuals who take part in stage one do not have to take part in stage two. For stage one, individuals are asked to do a face-to-face interview to collect information on general eating habits, physical activity and health and have their height and weight measured. Individuals are asked to keep an estimated (unweighed) food and drink diary for four days and provide a urine sample. For stage two, a nurse visits to carry out additional measures for waist and hip circumference and take a blood sample. Participation in both stages is over two months.
Primary outcome measure
1. Data on the food and nutrient intakes, sources of nutrients and nutritional status of the UK population is measured using the estimated (unweighed) food and drink diary
2. Food consumption data from the diaries will be used to calculate intakes of natural toxicants, contaminants, additives and other food chemicals
3. Evidence of nutritional status or dietary biomarkers, and to relate these to dietary, physiological and social data is measured using blood and urine tests
Secondary outcome measures
1. Anthropometric measurements are measured using a portable stadiometer, Tanita scales and an ‘Easy Check Circumference Measurement’ tape
2. Physical activity level is assessed using the Recent Physical Activity Questionnaire (RPAQ) within three days of completing the food diary
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
The NDNS Rolling Programme includes participants of all ages from 1.5 years upwards free-living in private households in the UK.
Target number of participants
1,000 per year (plus country boosts where funded)
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Infants and children aged under 18 months
2. Pregnant and lactating women
3. People living in institutions, e.g. children’s homes, prisons, residential homes for older people, hospitals
4. Homeless people and others with no fixed address
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
NatCen Social Research
35 Northampton Square
Trial participating centre
Medical Research Council Elsie Widdowson Laboratory
120 Fulbourn Road
Public Health England
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Data is available on the UK Data Archive. The next NDNS RP report will be for Years 7 and 8 and is due to be published 29/01/2018.
IPD sharing statement:
Anonymised data from the interview, food diary, physical measurements and blood and urine samples is made publically available through the UK Data Archive (http://data-archive.ac.uk/). Access is through registration with the UK Data Archive. Data is reported for combined survey years and so is deposited on the archive around two to three years after each survey year has been completed. Participants are told in the information sheets that their data will be shared but that they will not be identifiable. No formal consent is obtained.
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Stored in repository
Basic results (scientific)
2018 results in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29741556