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To characterize meal patterns across ten European countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) calibration study.
Cross-sectional study utilizing dietary data collected through a standardized 24 h diet recall during 1995–2000. Eleven predefined intake occasions across a 24 h period were assessed during the interview. In the present descriptive report, meal patterns were analysed in terms of daily number of intake occasions, the proportion reporting each intake occasion and the energy contributions from each intake occasion.
Twenty-seven centres across ten European countries.
Women (64 %) and men (36 %) aged 35–74 years (n 36 020).
Pronounced differences in meal patterns emerged both across centres within the same country and across different countries, with a trend for fewer intake occasions per day in Mediterranean countries compared with central and northern Europe. Differences were also found for daily energy intake provided by lunch, with 38–43 % for women and 41–45 % for men within Mediterranean countries compared with 16–27 % for women and 20–26 % for men in central and northern European countries. Likewise, a south–north gradient was found for daily energy intake from snacks, with 13–20 % (women) and 10–17 % (men) in Mediterranean countries compared with 24–34 % (women) and 23–35 % (men) in central/northern Europe.
We found distinct differences in meal patterns with marked diversity for intake frequency and lunch and snack consumption between Mediterranean and central/northern European countries. Monitoring of meal patterns across various cultures and populations could provide critical context to the research efforts to characterize relationships between dietary intake and health.
There is increasing evidence for a significant effect of processed meat (PM) intake on cancer risk. However, refined knowledge on how components of this heterogeneous food group are associated with cancer risk is still missing. Here, actual data on the intake of PM subcategories is given; within a food-based approach we considered preservation methods, cooking methods and nutrient content for stratification, in order to address most of the aetiologically relevant hypotheses.
Design and setting
Standardised computerised 24-hour diet recall interviews were collected within the framework of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a prospective cohort study in 27 centres across 10 European countries.
Subjects were 22 924 women and 13 031 men aged 35–74 years.
Except for the so-called ‘health-conscious’ cohort in the UK, energy-adjusted total PM intake ranged between 11.1 and 47.9 g day−1 in women and 18.8 and 88.5 g day−1 in men. Ham, salami-type sausages and heated sausages contributed most to the overall PM intake. The intake of cured (addition of nitrate/nitrite) PM was highest in the German, Dutch and northern European EPIC centres, with up to 68.8 g day−1 in men. The same was true for smoked PM (up to 51.8 g day−1). However, due to the different manufacturing practice, the highest average intake of NaNO2 through PM consumption was found for the Spanish centres (5.4 mg day−1 in men) as compared with German and British centres. Spanish centres also showed the highest intake of NaCl-rich types of PM; most cholesterol- and iron-rich PM was consumed in central and northern European centres. Possibly hazardous cooking methods were more often used for PM preparation in central and northern European centres.
We applied a food-based categorisation of PM that addresses aetiologically relevant mechanisms for cancer development and found distinct differences in dietary intake of these categories of PM across European cohorts. This predisposes EPIC to further investigate the role of PM in cancer aetiology.
To describe the average consumption of carbohydrate-providing food groups among study centres of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Of the 27 redefined EPIC study centres, 19 contributed subjects of both genders and eight centres female participants only (men, n=13 031; women, n=22924, after exclusion of subjects under 35 and over 74 years of age from the original 36 900 total). Dietary data were obtained using the 24-hour recall methodology using the EPIC-SOFT software. The major sources of dietary carbohydrate were identified, and 16 food groups were examined.
The 10 food groups contributing most carbohydrate were bread; fruit; milk and milk products; sweet buns, cakes and pies; potato; sugar and jam; pasta and rice; vegetables and legumes; crispbread; and fruit and vegetable juices. Consumption of fruits as well as vegetables and legumes was higher in southern compared with northern centres, while soft drinks consumption was higher in the north. Italian centres had high pasta and rice consumption, but breakfast cereal, potato, and sweet buns, cakes and pies were higher in northern centres. In Sweden, lower bread consumption was balanced with a higher consumption of crispbread, and with sweet buns, cakes and pies. Overall, men consumed higher amounts of vegetables and legumes, bread, soft drinks, potatoes, pasta and rice, breakfast cereal and sugar and jam than women, but fruit consumption appeared more frequent in women.
The study supports the established idea that carbohydrate-rich foods chosen in northern Europe are different from those in the Mediterranean region. When comparing and interpreting diet–disease relationships across populations, researchers need to consider all types of foods.
To describe anthropometric characteristics of participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data of a European prospective cohort study.
This analysis includes study populations from 25 centres in nine European countries. The British populations comprised both a population-based and a ‘health-conscious’ group. The analysis was restricted to 83 178 men and 163 851 women aged 50–64 years, this group being represented in all centres.
Anthropometric examinations were undertaken by trained observers using standardised methods and included measurements of weight, height, and waist and hip circumferences. In the ‘health-conscious’ group (UK), anthropometric measures were predicted from self-reports.
Except in the ‘health-conscious’ group (UK) and in the French centres, mean body mass index (BMI) exceeded 25.0 kg m-2. The prevalence of obesity (BMI≥30 kg m-2) varied from 8% to 40% in men, and from 5% to 53% in women, with high prevalences (>25%) in the centres from Spain, Greece, Ragusa and Naples (Italy) and the lowest prevalences (<10%) in the French centres and the ‘health-conscious’ group (UK). The prevalence of a large waist circumference or a high waist-to-hip ratio was high in centres from Spain, Greece, Ragusa and Naples (Italy) and among women from centres in Germany and Bilthoven (The Netherlands).
Anthropometric measures varied considerably within the EPIC population. These data provide a strong base for further investigation of anthropometric measures in relation to the risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer.
To evaluate the consumption of added fats and oils across the European centres and countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Design and setting:
24-Hour dietary recalls were collected by means of standardised computer-guided interviews in 27 redefined EPIC centres across 10 European countries.
From an initial number of 36 900 subjects, single dietary recalls from 22 924 women and 13 031 men in the age range of 35–74 years were included.
Mean daily intake of added fats and oils varied between 16.2 g (Varese, Italy) and 41.1 g (Malmö, Sweden) in women and between 24.7 g (Ragusa, Italy) and 66.0 g (Potsdam, Germany) in men. Total mean lipid intake by consumption of added fats and oils, including those used for sauce preparation, ranged between 18.3 (Norway) and 37.2 g day−1 (Greece) in women and 28.4 (Heidelberg, Germany) and 51.2 g day−1 (Greece) in men. The Mediterranean EPIC centres with high olive oil consumption combined with low animal fat intake contrasted with the central and northern European centres where fewer vegetable oils, more animal fats and a high proportion of margarine were consumed. The consumption of added fats and oils of animal origin was highest in the German EPIC centres, followed by the French. The contribution of added fats and oils to total energy intake ranged from 8% in Norway to 22% in Greece.
The results demonstrate a high variation in dietary intake of added fats and oils in EPIC, providing a good opportunity to elucidate the role of dietary fats in cancer aetiology.
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.
To evaluate meat intake patterns in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohorts.
Design and setting:
24-Hour dietary recalls were assessed within the framework of a prospective cohort study in 27 centres across 10 European countries by means of standardised computer-assisted interviews.
In total, 22 924 women and 13 031 men aged 35–74 years.
Mean total meat intake was lowest in the ‘health-conscious’ cohort in the UK (15 and 21 g day−1 in women and men, respectively) and highest in the north of Spain, especially in San Sebastian (124 and 234 g day−1, respectively). In the southern Spanish centres and in Naples (Italy), meat consumption was distinctly lower than in the north of these countries. Central and northern European centres/countries showed rather similar meat consumption patterns, except for the British and French cohorts. Differences in the intake of meat sub-groups (e.g. red meat, processed meat) across EPIC were even higher than found for total meat intake. With a few exceptions, the Mediterranean EPIC centres revealed a higher proportion of beef/veal and poultry and less pork or processed meat than observed in central or northern European centres. The highest sausage consumption was observed for the German EPIC participants, followed by the Norwegians, Swedish, Danish and Dutch.
The results demonstrate distinct differences in meat consumption patterns between EPIC centres across Europe. This is an important prerequisite for obtaining further insight into the relationship between meat intake and the development of chronic diseases.
To describe and compare the consumption of dairy products in cohorts included in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Data from single 24-hour dietary recall interviews collected through a highly standardised computer-based program (EPIC-SOFT) in 27 redefined centres in 10 European countries between 1995 and 2000. From a total random sample of 36 900, 22 924 women and 13 031 men were selected after exclusion of subjects under 35 and over 74 years of age.
A high total consumption of dairy products was reported in most of the centres in Spain and in the UK cohort sampled from the general population, as well as in the Dutch, Swedish and Danish centres. A somewhat low consumption was reported in the Greek centre and in some of the Italian centres (Ragusa and Turin). In all centres and for both sexes, milk constituted the dairy sub-group with the largest proportion (in grams) of total dairy consumption, followed by yoghurt and other fermented milk products, and cheese. Still, there was a wide range in the contributions of the different dairy sub-groups between centres. The Spanish and Nordic centres generally reported a high consumption of milk, the Swedish and Dutch centres reported a high consumption of yoghurt and other fermented milk products, whereas the highest consumption of cheese was reported in the French centres.
The results demonstrate both quantitative and qualitative disparities in dairy product consumption among the EPIC centres. This offers a sound starting point for analyses of associations between dairy intake and chronic diseases such as cancer.
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