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The German National Nutrition Survey II

What’s on the menu in Germany? Do we have an adequate nutrient intake? Does food consumption differ between men and women? To answer these and other questions, the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection commissioned the Max Rubner-Institut (formerly Federal Research Centre for Nutrition and Food) to plan and conduct the German National Nutrition Survey (NVS) II. The first representative consumption study was conducted 20 years ago and covered only the federal states of West Germany.

Between November 2005 and January 2007, almost 20,000 German-speaking participants aged 14−80 years were interviewed within the scope of the NVS II. The objective of the NVS II was to provide representative data on food consumption and further aspects of nutritional behaviour in Germany, as well as to depict the population’s nutrient intake calculated from food consumption.

In order to record food consumption and further nutritional behaviour in the best possible way, different dietary assessment instruments were used. With a computer-assisted diet history interview, the usual diet and nutritional habits were recorded. On two randomly selected days, the food consumption of the last 24 hours was asked by telephone. A sub-sample of 1,000 participants also completed two four-day weighed food records. Sociodemographic data were obtained by computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI). Participants also completed a questionnaire on activity and nutritional behaviour. In addition, anthropometric measurements were taken. A detailed description of the methods, study procedures and data management can be found in a publicly available report (only in German).

Results of the NVS II indicate, among others, that the German population consumed not enough plant-based food such as vegetables and fruit and too much animal-based food such as meat, meat products and sausages. Nutritional habits differed clearly between men and women. Men ate almost twice as much meat, sausages and meat products (156 grams per day) compared to women (84 grams per day).

The median intake of most vitamins and minerals from adults was within the recommended range. Critical nutrients were folate, calcium and iodine, as well as iron for women.

28 % of the participants used supplements − even though their average intake of most vitamins corresponded to or even exceeded the reference values of the German Nutrition Society (DGE). Most supplements were taken in the age group 65−80 years.

Results on food consumption and nutrient intake