Public Health Nutrition

Biological and behavioural determinants

Dietary patterns among British adults: compatibility with dietary guidelines for salt/sodium, fat, saturated fat and sugars

Sigrid Gibsona1 c1 and Margaret Ashwella2

a1 SiG-Nurture Ltd, 11 Woodway, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 2TF, UK

a2 Ashwell Associates (Europe) Ltd, Ashwell Street, Ashwell, Hertfordshire, SG7 5PZ, UK


Objective To examine dietary patterns among British adults, associations with Na and macronutrient intakes, and implications for dietary advice.

Design Principal component analysis of 7 d weighed dietary records.

Subjects Adults aged 19–64 years (n 1724).

Setting National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2000/2001).

Results High Na intake was associated with more energy-dense diets, higher in fat and SFA (percentage of energy) but lower in non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES). Eight patterns (PC1 to PC8) explained 40 % of the total variance in food intakes. Three patterns – PC3 (high loadings on bread, fats and cheese), PC2 (meat products, eggs and chips) and PC7 (red meat, sauces and alcohol) – were associated with high Na intake. Of these, PC3 correlated with high Na density and Na:K ratio, while PC2 correlated with fat. By contrast, three patterns – ‘health-conscious’ (PC1; vegetables, fruit, fruit juice, fish), ‘breakfast cereals and milk’ (PC6) and ‘chicken and rice’ (PC8) – were associated with modest Na intake, lower Na density and lower fat and SFA. PC2 was positively correlated, and PC1 was negatively correlated, with adding salt to food. Other patterns were ‘tea/coffee and cakes’ (PC4; associated with high SFA and NMES) and ‘soft drinks and snacks’ (PC5; associated with high NMES but not fat or SFA). The dietary patterns of males and females differed slightly.

Conclusions Dietary patterns PC1, PC6, PC8 (vegetables, fruit, fish, milk, breakfast cereals, poultry) were broadly compatible with guidelines for salt, fat, SFA and NMES. However, other patterns tended to be high in either salt or NMES.

(Received September 15 2010)

(Accepted March 15 2011)

(Online publication May 06 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email