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The aim of this study was to compare the quantities of alcohol and types of alcoholic beverages consumed, and the timing of consumption, in centres participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). These centres, in 10 European countries, are characterised by widely differing drinking habits and frequencies of alcohol-related diseases.
We collected a single standardised 24-hour dietary recall per subject from a random sample of the EPIC cohort (36 900 persons initially and 35 955 after exclusion of subjects under 35 and over 74 years of age). This provided detailed information on the distribution of alcohol consumption during the day in relation to main meals, and was used to determine weekly consumption patterns. The crude and adjusted (by age, day of week and season) means of total ethanol consumption and consumption according to type of beverage were stratified by centre and sex.
Sex was a strong determinant of drinking patterns in all 10 countries. The highest total alcohol consumption was observed in the Spanish centres (San Sebastian, 41.4 g day−1) for men and in Danish centres (Copenhagen, 20.9 g day−1) for women. The lowest total alcohol intake was in the Swedish centres (Umeå, 10.2 g day−1) in men and in Greek women (3.4 g day−1). Among men, the main contributor to total alcohol intake was wine in Mediterranean countries and beer in the Dutch, German, Swedish and Danish centres. In most centres, the main source of alcohol for women was wine except for Murcia (Spain), where it was beer. Alcohol consumption, particularly by women, increased markedly during the weekend in nearly all centres. The German, Dutch, UK (general population) and Danish centres were characterised by the highest percentages of alcohol consumption outside mealtimes.
The large variation in drinking patterns among the EPIC centres provides an opportunity to better understand the relationship between alcohol and alcohol-related diseases.
To describe the trends of self-reported past consumption of alcoholic beverages and ethanol intake from 1950 to 1995 within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Data on consumption of beer/cider, wine and liqueur/spirits were obtained retrospectively at age 20, 30 and 40 years to calculate average consumption and ethanol intake for the time periods 1950–1975 (at age 20), 1960–1985 (at age 30) and 1970–1995 (at age 40). Regression analysis was conducted with the time period data to assess trends in past alcoholic beverage consumption and ethanol intake with time.
The EPIC project.
In total, 392 064 EPIC participants (275 249 women and 116 815 men) from 21 study centres in eight European countries.
Generally, increases in beer/cider consumption were observed for most EPIC centres for 1950–1975, 1960–1985 and 1970–1995. Trends in wine consumption differed according to geographical location: downward trends with time were observed for men in southern European EPIC centres, upward trends for those in middle/northern European study centres. For women, similar but less pronounced trends were observed. Because wine consumption was the major contributor to ethanol intake for both men and women in most study centres, time trends for ethanol intake showed a similar geographical pattern to that of wine consumption.
The different trends in alcoholic beverage consumption and ethanol intake suggest that information depicting lifetime history of ethanol intake should be included in analyses of the relationship between ethanol and chronic diseases, particularly in multi-centre studies such as EPIC.
To describe physical activity of participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data of a European prospective cohort study.
This analysis was restricted to participants in the age group 50–64 years, which was represented in all EPIC centres. It involved 236 386 participants from 25 centres in nine countries. In each EPIC centre, physical activity was assessed by standardised and validated questions. Frequency distribution of type of professional activity and participation in non-professional activities, and age-adjusted means, medians and percentiles of time dedicated to non-professional activities are presented for men and women from each centre.
Professional activity was most frequently classified as sedentary or standing in all centres. There was a wide variation regarding participation in different types of non-professional activities and time dedicated to these activities across EPIC centres. Over 80% of all EPIC participants engaged in walking, while less than 50% of the subjects participated in sport. Total time dedicated to recreational activities was highest among the Dutch participants and lowest among men from Malmö (Sweden) and women from Naples (Italy). In all centres, total time dedicated to recreational activity in the summer was higher than in the winter. Women from southern Europe spent the most time on housekeeping.
There is a considerable variation of physical activity across EPIC centres. This variation was especially evident for recreational activities in both men and women.
To describe and compare the consumption of total fish (marine foods) and the fish sub-groups – white fish, fatty fish, very fatty fish, fish products and crustacea, in participants from the European Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study.
Cross-sectional analysis of dietary intake using a computerised standardised 24-hour recall interview. Crude means, means and standard errors adjusted by age, season and day of the week were calculated, stratified by centre and gender.
Twenty-seven redefined centres in the 10 European countries participating in the EPIC study.
In total, 35 955 subjects (13 031 men and 22 924 women), aged 35–74 years, selected from the main EPIC cohort.
A six- to sevenfold variation in total fish consumption exists in women and men, between the lowest consumption in Germany and the highest in Spain. Overall, white fish represented 49% and 45% of the intake of total fish in women and men, respectively, with the greatest consumption in centres in Spain and Greece and the least in the German and Dutch centres. Consumption of fatty fish reflected that of total fish. However, the greatest intake of very fatty fish was in the coastal areas of northern Europe (Denmark, Sweden and Norway) and in Germany. Consumption of fish products was greater in northern than in southern Europe, with white fish products predominating in centres in France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands and Norway. Intake of roe and roe products was low. The highest consumption of crustacea was found in the French, Spanish and Italian centres. The number of fish types consumed was greater in southern than in northern Europe. The greatest variability in consumption by day of the week was found in the countries with the lowest fish intake.
Throughout Europe, substantial geographic variation exists in total fish intake, fish sub-groups and the number of types consumed. Day-to-day variability in consumption is also high.
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.
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