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NatCen and MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge to deliver the next four years of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey

18 January 2018

The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge have been awarded the contract to provide the next four years of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) Rolling Programme.

This builds on the successful delivery of the first 10 years of the survey, undertaken by NatCen and the MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory (formerly MRC Human Nutrition Research).

The survey, funded by Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency, assesses the diet, nutrient intake and nutritional status of adults and children aged 1.5 years and over living in private households in the UK. The nationally representative survey is used by policy makers, healthcare professionals, charities and academics to identify and address nutritional public health and food safety issues.

NatCen’s expert interviewers and nurses will visit around 1,000 people per year, collecting diaries of food intake as well as objective measurements including blood samples to record nutrient levels and waist and hip circumference to identify abdominal obesity.

The MRC Epidemiology Unit is providing scientific leadership within the partnership, taking over from the MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory. The Unit will deliver the dietary intake and nutritional biomarker assessment and will lead on the transition to an alternative dietary assessment method closely aligned with technological developments in the field. This is supported by the Unit’s leadership of the Diet, Nutrition and Lifestyle theme of the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre.

Gillian Prior, Head of Health and Biomedical Research at the National Centre for Social Research said: “It is testament to the hard work of the consortium’s nurses, interviewers and researchers that we have been awarded the NDNS contract for another four years. This survey is vital for understanding the nutritional status and food consumption behaviours of the population, and we are delighted to be continuing our work alongside Cambridge researchers.”

Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, said: “We’re very pleased to be involved in the NDNS which is a key resource to help us understand the health of the nation. We have worked closely with the MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory to ensure continuity and to benefit from their considerable expertise and experience. We’re excited about contributing to the ongoing development of the survey to enhance its capability to deliver comprehensive nutritional surveillance to support and guide future public health policy and action.”