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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.
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 evaluate under- and overreporting and their determinants in the EPIC 24-hour diet recall (24-HDR) measurements collected in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Cross-sectional analysis. 24-HDR measurements were obtained by means of a standardised computerised interview program (EPIC-SOFT). The ratio of reported energy intake (EI) to estimated basal metabolic rate (BMR) was used to ascertain the magnitude, impact and determinants of misreporting. Goldberg's cut-off points were used to identify participants with physiologically extreme low or high energy intake. At the aggregate level the value of 1.55 for physical activity level (PAL) was chosen as reference. At the individual level we used multivariate statistical techniques to identify factors that could explain EI/BMR variability. Analyses were performed by adjusting for weight, height, age at recall, special diet, smoking status, day of recall (weekday vs. weekend day) and physical activity.
Twenty-seven redefined centres in the 10 countries participating in the EPIC project.
In total, 35955 men and women, aged 35–74 years, participating in the nested EPIC calibration sub-studies.
While overreporting has only a minor impact, the percentage of subjects identified as extreme underreporters was 13.8% and 10.3% in women and men, respectively. Mean EI/BMR values in men and women were 1.44 and 1.36 including all subjects, and 1.50 and 1.44 after exclusion of misreporters. After exclusion of misreporters, adjusted EI/BMR means were consistently less than 10% different from the expected value of 1.55 for PAL (except for women in Greece and in the UK), with overall differences equal to 4.0% and 7.4% for men and women, respectively. We modelled the probability of being an underreporter in association with several individual characteristics. After adjustment for age, height, special diet, smoking status, day of recall and physical activity at work, logistic regression analyses resulted in an odds ratio (OR) of being an underreporter for the highest vs. the lowest quartile of body mass index (BMI) of 3-52 (95% confidence interval (CD 2.91–4.26) in men and 4.80 (95% CI 4.11–5.6l) in women, indicating that overweight subjects are significantly more likely to underestimate energy intake than subjects in the bottom BMI category. Older people were less likely to underestimate energy intake: ORs were 0.58 (95% CI 0.45–0.77) and 0.74 (95% CI 0.63–0.88) for age (≥ 65 years vs. < 50 years). Special diet and day of the week showed strong effects.
EI tends to be underestimated in the vast majority of the EPIC centres, although to varying degrees; at the aggregate level most centres were below the expected reference value of 1.55. Underreporting seems to be more prevalent among women than men in the EPIC calibration sample. The hypothesis that BMI (or weight) and age are causally related to underreporting seems to be confirmed in the present work. This introduces further complexity in the within-group (centre or country) and between-group calibration of dietary questionnaire measurements to deattenuate the diet—disease relationship.
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.
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 estimate mercury intake due to fish consumption among the individuals from Gipuzkoa participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC), and to validate the estimation of mercury exposure through diet, by measuring blood mercury level.
Design and setting:
The population for the EPIC Gipuzkoa cohort was recruited from 1992 to 1995. Each individual's diet was assessed regarding habitual intake over the previous year, using the diet history method. Blood samples were taken at the time of the interview. The mercury content of the fish species consumed was supplied by the Food Chemical Surveillance Programme in the Basque Country.
For the estimation, 8417 volunteers, men and women, aged 35–65 years, of the EPIC cohort; for the validation, a random sample of 120 individuals stratified by fish intake was taken.
The validation study confirmed the relationship between fish consumption and mercury intake, as well as between fish consumption and mercury in erythrocytes. 99.9% of individuals have intakes below 75% of the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) of mercury established by the World Health Organization. But the limit dosage recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, measured by the average risk index, would be exceeded often.
No individual from the cohort would exceed the PTWI of mercury. Nevertheless, owing to the amount of fish consumed, certain individuals would have mercury intakes approaching the recommended limits. With a view to the future, we believe mercury in fish must continue to be monitored closely in order to assess the risks for the population.
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