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The aim of this study was to describe the variation of soy product intake in 10 European countries by using a standardised reference dietary method. A subsidiary aim was to characterise the pattern of soy consumption among a sub-group of participants with a habitual health-conscious lifestyle (HHL), i.e. non-meat eaters who are fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans.
A 24-hour dietary recall interview (24-HDR) was conducted among a sample (5–12%) of all cohorts (n = 36 900) in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Study participants totalled 35 955 after exclusion of subjects younger than 35 or older than 74 years of age. Soy products were subdivided into seven sub-groups by similarity. Distribution of consumption and crude and adjusted means of intake were computed per soy product group across countries. Intake of soy products was also investigated among participants with an HHL.
In total, 195 men and 486 women reported consuming soy products in the 24-HDR interview. Although soy product intake was generally low across all countries, the highest intake level was observed in the UK, due to over-sampling of a large number of participants with an HHL. The most frequently consumed soy foods were dairy substitutes in the UK and France and beans and sprouts among mid-European countries. For both genders, the sub-group of soy dairy substitutes was consumed in the highest quantities (1.2 g day−1 for men; 1.9 g day−1 for women). Participants with an HHL differed substantially from others with regard to demographic, anthropometric and nutritional factors. They consumed higher quantities of almost all soy product groups.
Consumption of soy products is low in centres in Western Europe. Soy dairy substitutes are most frequently consumed. Participants with an HHL form a distinct sub-group with higher consumptions of fruit, vegetables, legumes, cereals and soy products compared with the other participants.
A new data-entry system (DINER – Data Into Nutrients for Epidemiological Research) for food record methods has been devised for the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) cohort study of 25 000 men and women in Norfolk. DINER has been developed to address the problems of efficiency and consistency of data entry, comparability of data, maximising information and future flexibility in large long-term population studies of diet and disease that use record methods to assess dietary intakes. DINER captures more detail than traditional systems and enables provision of new variables for specific food types or groups. The system has been designed to be fully flexible and easy to update. Analysis of consistency of data entry was tested in a group of 3525 participants entered by 25 coders.
A food list of 9000 food items and values for 24 000 portion sizes have been incorporated into the database, using information from the 5979 diaries coded since 1995. Analysis of consistency of entry indicated that this has largely been achieved. The effect of coders in a multivariate regression model was significant only if the three coders involved in early use of the program were included (P<0.013).
The development of DINER has facilitated the use of more accurate record methods in large-scale epidemiological studies of diet and disease. Furthermore, the retention of original information as an extensive food list allows greater flexibility in later analyses of data of multiple dietary hypotheses.
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