National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Assigning mixed dishes to food groups in the nutrient databank

Emily Fitt*, Celia J. Prynne, Birgit Teucher, Gillian Swan, Alison M. Stephen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) gathers information on the dietary habits and nutritional status of the UK population aged 1.5 years upward. Mixed dishes, being a mixture of components with varying proportions, prove problematic for categorising and reporting consumption-unlike basic foods, which can be classified into specific food groups relatively easily. For both purchased and homemade mixed dishes, it is advantageous to have a consistent method for assigning dishes to appropriate food groups, while retaining continuity with previous NDNS surveys to enable investigation of trends over time. Historically two main methods have been used to classify mixed dishes in the NDNS databank: either grouping by meat or fish content, or grouping by the main food component. Neither method is entirely satisfactory. In this study, selected foods were tabulated by both methods to determine which approach should be used in future work. Neither method proved entirely satisfactory alone, and in order to maintain consistency and continuity for the main survey of the new NDNS rolling programme, it was decided to take into account elements from both methods and to place comparable recipes together in the same food groups. A varied approach encompassing food names, proportions of ingredients and case-by-case judgement is the most appropriate way to classify mixed food dishes in a nutrient databank.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S52-S56
JournalJournal of Food Composition and Analysis
Issue numberSUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), funded by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Department of Health, gathers information on the dietary habits and nutritional status of the United Kingdom (UK) population. In reviewing the NDNS programme in 2002/2003, the FSA decided to move from a series of age specific surveys at timed intervals, to a rolling programme of continuous survey of all ages from 1.5 years upwards, now called the NDNS rolling programme ( Ashwell et al., 2006 ). The results of the rolling programme survey will provide information on the current dietary habits and nutrient intakes of the UK population, as well as background data for dietary recommendations, nutrient profiling for food labelling and public policy messages from Government on healthy eating. The work of the rolling programme is being carried out by a consortium, comprising the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), the collaborative Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research Centre (MRC HNR) and the Joint Surveys team at University College London (UCL). The creation of the consortium and the assigning of resources for the rolling programme has allowed for a thorough examination of procedures and content of the NDNS food composition databank and enabled changes to be made in the way foods are categorised to better reflect the changing consumption patterns of UK consumers.


  • Food composition
  • Food data management
  • Foods
  • Mixed dishes
  • National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS)
  • National survey
  • Nutrient databank
  • Recipe


Dive into the research topics of 'National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Assigning mixed dishes to food groups in the nutrient databank'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this