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The National Food Survey (NFS), which closed in 2000, was the longest-running continuous survey of household food consumption and expenditure in the world. It was originally set up in 1940 by the then Ministry of Food to monitor the adequacy of the diet of urban 'working class' households in wartime, but it was extended in 1950 to become representative of households throughout Great Britain (the UKDA holds NFS data from 1974-2000 only). In 1996 the survey was extended to cover Northern Ireland, thus allowing results for the United Kingdom to be presented for the first time. Among many uses of the survey are providing information to the Retail Prices Index, identifying changes in food expenditure and consumption over time, and monitoring progress towards targets set out in the White Paper 'The Health of the Nation'.

Main Topics/Subject Category
Each household was provided with a specially designed log-book in which the person principally responsible for domestic food arrangements provided information about each household. The main diary-keeper kept a record each day for seven days, with guidance from an interviewer, of all food entering the home intended for human consumption

Household consumption by GOR, household consumption of selected foods by age of main diary keeper, household consumption of selected foods by household composition, household consumption of selected foods by income of head-of-household, household food expenditure and consumption and nutrient intake, household nutrient data.

Food, nutrition, household, nutrient, consumption, confectionary, diary, drinks, beverages, cereal, fruit and vegetable
Identifier Variables
Economic/Subject Categories
Income, Earnings, Nutrition
Area of Health System
Data collecting organization (s)
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Data Type
Survey (longitudinal)
Coverage (date of field work)
1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
Unit of Analysis

Approximately 10,500 private households in the United Kingdom.

DEFRA, UK data archive
Conditions of Access
Free access
Tel: 01904455069,
Prentice AM and Jebb SA. Obesity in Britain: gluttony or sloth? BMJ 1995; 311: 437-439