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Population monitoring of lifestyle behaviours that are crucial as risk and protective factors for major chronic diseases is vital for the identification of priority areas for public health. In this study, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of adherence to the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) cancer prevention recommendations in Switzerland, overall and by selected sociodemographic and lifestyle characteristics. Data from the population-based, cross-sectional survey menuCH were used. We constructed a score reflecting adherence to the 2018 WCRF/AICR cancer prevention recommendations. Multinomial logistic regression models were fitted to investigate the association of sociodemographic and lifestyle characteristics with the level of adherence to the WCRF/AICR cancer prevention recommendations. The least frequently met cancer prevention recommendations were the ones on fibre intake (met by 13·7 %), red and processed meat (25·4 %), and ultra-processed food (33·3 %) consumption, while the recommendation on physical activity was met by almost 80 %. Women and individuals with tertiary education were more likely to have a score of ≥ 5 (as a reflection of adherence to the cancer prevention recommendations), compared with men or those who completed secondary education, respectively. Current smokers were less likely to have a score of ≥ 5, compared with never smokers. A high proportion of the population in Switzerland was found to not adhere closely to the WCRF/AICR cancer prevention recommendations. Differences were detected based on sociodemographic characteristics. Education and policy actions are needed to facilitate the adoption of a cancer-protective lifestyle.
Characterising meat consumption in Switzerland across socio-demographic, lifestyle and anthropometric groups.
Representative national data from the menuCH survey (two 24-hour dietary recalls, anthropometric measurements and a lifestyle questionnaire) were used to analyse the total average daily intake of meat and main meat categories. Energy-standardised average intake (g/1000 kcal) was calculated and its association with 12 socio-demographic, lifestyle and anthropometric variables was investigated using multivariable linear regression.
Totally, 2057 participants aged 18–75 years.
Average total meat intake was 109 g/d, which included 43 g/d of processed meat, 37 g/d of red meat and 27 g/d of white meat. Energy-standardised meat intake was highest for men, the Italian-language region and the youngest age group (18–29 years). Regression results showed significantly lower total meat and red meat consumption (g/1000 kcal) for women than men. However, there were no sex-specific differences for white meat. Total meat and white meat consumption were positively associated with the 18–29 age group, compared with 30–44 years, non-Swiss compared with Swiss participants and one-parent families with children compared with couples without children. Consumption of all categories of meat showed positive associations for BMI > 25 kg/m2 compared with BMI 18·5–25 kg/m2 and for French- and Italian-language regions compared with German-language region.
The current study reveals that there are significant differences in the amounts and types of meat consumed in Switzerland, suggesting that evidence-based risks and benefits of these categories need to be emphasised more in meat consumption recommendations.
Different methods of dietary intake assessment are frequently used to assess a population’s diet. In this study, we aimed to compare the adherence to Swiss food-based dietary guidelines as depicted in two Swiss population-based surveys using different methods of dietary assessment.
Two population-based, cross-sectional surveys were compared. In the Swiss Health Survey (SHS), diet was assessed via a short set of questions on specific food groups, while in menuCH by two non-consecutive 24-h dietary recall interviews.
To compare the diet depicted in these surveys, we used the Swiss food-based dietary guidelines on vegetable, fruit, dairy product, meat and meat product, fish and alcohol. The weighted proportion of responders meeting these guidelines was calculated for both surveys and was compared overall and by selected characteristics.
Residents of Switzerland, selected from a stratified random sample of the non-institutionalised residents, who agreed to participate in the respective survey. To ensure comparability between the surveys, the age of the study populations was restricted to 18–75 years.
In menuCH, approximately 2 % of responders met ≥4 of the selected Swiss food-based dietary guidelines. In the SHS, using a cruder dietary assessment, the corresponding percentage was 20 %. In both surveys, more women and never smokers were meeting ≥4 food-based dietary guidelines compared to men and current or former smokers, respectively.
Our study comparing the diet in two population-based, representative surveys detected large variations in guideline adherence depending on the dietary assessment method used.
We investigated the associations between dietary patterns and chronic disease mortality in Switzerland using an ecological design and explored their spatial dependence, i.e. the tendency of near locations to present more similar and distant locations to present more different values than randomly expected. Data of the National Nutrition Survey menuCH (n 2057) were used to compute hypothesis- (Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI)) and data-driven dietary patterns. District-level standardised mortality ratios (SMR) were calculated using the Swiss Federal Statistical Office mortality data and linked to dietary data geographically. Quasipoisson regression models were fitted to investigate the associations between dietary patterns and chronic disease mortality; Moran’s I statistics were used to explore spatial dependence. Compared with the first, the fifth AHEI quintile (highest diet quality) was associated with district-level SMR of 0·95 (95 % CI 0·93, 0·97) for CVD, 0·91 (95 % CI 0·88, 0·95) for ischaemic heart disease (IHD), 0·97 (95 % CI 0·95, 0·99) for stroke, 0·99 (95 % CI 0·98, 1·00) for all-cancer, 0·98 (95 % CI 0·96, 0·99) for colorectal cancer and 0·93 (95 % CI 0·89, 0·96) for diabetes. The Swiss traditional and Western-like patterns were associated with significantly higher district-level SMR for CVD, IHD, stroke and diabetes (ranging from 1·02 to 1·08) compared with the Prudent pattern. Significant global and local spatial dependence was identified, with similar results across hypothesis- and data-driven dietary patterns. Our study suggests that dietary patterns partly contribute to the explanation of geographic disparities in chronic disease mortality in Switzerland. Further analyses including spatial components in regression models would allow identifying regions where nutritional interventions are particularly needed.
To describe and analyse the sociodemographic, anthropometric, behavioural and dietary characteristics of different types of Swiss (no-)meat eaters.
No-, low-, medium- and high-meat eaters were compared with respect to energy and total protein intake and sociodemographic, anthropometric and behavioural characteristics.
National Nutrition Survey menuCH, the first representative survey in Switzerland.
2057 participants, aged 18–75 years old, who completed two 24-h dietary recalls (24-HDR) and a questionnaire on dietary habits, sociodemographic and lifestyle factors. Body weight and height were measured by trained interviewers. No-meat eaters were participants who reported meat avoidance in the questionnaire and did not report any meat consumption in the 24-HDR. Remaining study participants were assigned to the group of low-, medium- or high-meat eaters based on energy contributions of total meat intake to total energy intake (meat:energy ratio). Fifteen percentage of the participants were assigned to the low- and high-meat eating groups, and the remaining to the medium-meat eating group.
Overall, 4·4 % of the study participants did not consume meat. Compared with medium-meat eaters, no-meat eaters were more likely to be single and users of dietary supplements. Women and high-educated individuals were less likely to be high-meat eaters, whereas overweight and obese individuals were more likely to be high-meat eaters. Total energy intake was similar between the four different meat consumption groups, but no-meat eaters had lowest total protein intake.
This study identified important differences in sociodemographic, anthropometric, behavioural and dietary factors between menuCH participants with different meat-eating habits.
Processed meat (PM) has an important role in diet of the Swiss population, but increasingly regarded as a food group of concern due to epidemiological evidence for its association with colorectal cancer (CRC) and other chronic diseases. Data on CRC incidence for men and women and by region is available in Switzerland, but cannot be linked with PM intake.
This secondary analysis aimed to describe PM consumption in Switzerland, using data from the National Nutritional Survey menuCH, to investigate associations between PM intake and sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, and to examine CRC incidence in Switzerland for any similar regional patterns to PM consumption.
Intakes of total PM and of categories ham, bacon, sausage and other PM types were described by means and standard errors (SEM). Multiple regression analysis was used to investigate associations between meat intake (total meat and PM, assessed separately, g/1000 kcal) and the following sociodemographic and lifestyle factors: sex, language-speaking region, age-category, nationality, education, gross household income, household status, smoking status, overall health status (self-reported), and currently following a weight-loss diet. Data were weighted for age, sex, marital status, major areas of Switzerland, nationality and household size, and for consumption data, also season and weekday.
Results show PM was consumed by approximately 70% of the population with mean total intake of 42.7 (SEM 1.2 g/d). Sausage intake was highest with 16.8 g/day, followed by ham, other PM and bacon, 12.4, 10.6, and 2.0 g/day, respectively. Sex was significantly associated with total meat and PM intake; women consumed 10.1 g/1000 kcal less total meat [95% CI: -13.60; -6.64], and 4.70 g /1000 kcal less PM [95% CI: -6.73; -2.68] than men. For both variables, total meat and PM intake, positive associations were observed for overweight, obesity and current smoking; and negative associations observed for tertiary education and following a diet. The later was significant only for PM intake. The ecological data for CRC incidence revealed much higher rates for men than women, over 24 years; but the data shown by language region did not reveal any particular pattern.
This study is the first to describe intakes of total and different PM types, based on national representative data. Positive associations between PM intake and smoking and obesity merit careful monitoring. More regular data collection by methods enabling separate quantification of meat and PM, as well as relevant health biomarkers are needed in future studies.
Today's high interest for no- or low-meat diets is driven by evidence-based associations between high meat consumption and unhealthy lifestyle factors as well as increased risk of various chronic diseases. This study aims to characterize no-, low- and high-meat consumers and describe their protein intake using data from the Swiss nutrition survey menuCH.This first national survey assessed descriptive factors by a questionnaire and dietary intake by 24-hour dietary recall (24 HDR) across all three linguistic regions, German, French and Italian of Switzerland (N = 2057). Data from the questionnaire (food avoidance) and two 24 HDRs were used to categorize total participants (N) into four subgroups: no meat (4.4%); low (15%), medium (65.6%), or high-meat eaters (15%), based on meat-energy contributions of 0; 0–2.4; 2.4–18.7; 18.7–48.4, respectively. Contributions of overall macronutrients and protein from the different food groups were described for each subgroup to identify quantitative and qualitative differences. Multinomial logistic regression analysis was applied to predict the probability of belonging to one of the four subgroups according to the following sociodemographic and behavioral variables: sex, language region, age, nationality, marital status, education, gross household income, BMI, physical activity, smoking, dietary supplements and overall health status. The subgroups differed in protein intake with 11.5%, 12.8%, 15.4% and 19.1% of total energy intake for no-, low-,medium- and high-meat diets, respectively, weighted for sampling design, non-response, weekdays and season. In general, no- and low-meat consumers included a greater variety of foods contributing to protein intake than meat consumers, including more dairy products and meat-alternatives. None of the subgroups met the Swiss Food-based Dietary Guidelines of three portions of dairy products per day. The regression analysis showed that sex, taking dietary supplements or not and BMI were important determinants of the subgroups: women had a higher predicted probability than men to be no- and low-meat eaters and for these same subgroups, individuals showed higher probabilities for taking dietary supplements. Overweight and obese participants showed higher probabilities to be high-meat eaters.
These findings show considerable differences in protein intake and in variety of protein-food selections, between extremes of meat intake (no- to high meat consumption). Future surveys should include frequency methods to allow conclusions about habitual meat intake or avoidance and health status screening to analyse individuals health data.
Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is associated with negative health consequences for mothers and their infants. Data on the vitamin D status of pregnant women in Switzerland are scarce. A three-centre study was conducted in the obstetric departments of Zurich, Bellinzona and Samedan (Switzerland) to investigate the prevalence and determinants of vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)<50 nmol/l) in 3rd-trimester pregnant women living in Switzerland (n 305), and the correlation between 25(OH)D in pregnant women and their offspring at birth (n 278). Demographic and questionnaire data were used to explore the determinants of vitamin D deficiency. Median concentration of serum 25(OH)D in the third trimester of pregnancy was 46·0 nmol/l (1st–3rd quartiles: 30·5–68·5), representing a 53·4 % prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. 25(OH)D levels in the umbilcal cord blood (median: 50·0 nmol/l; 1st–3rd quartiles: 31·0–76·6) strongly correlated with mothers’ serum 25(OH)D (Spearman’s correlation ρ=0·79, P<0·001). Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that significant determinants of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women were centre of study, country of origin, season of delivery and vitamin D supplement intake. Near-term BMI, skin colour, use of sunscreen and mothers’ education, although each not individually significant, collectively improved the ability of the model to explain vitamin D status. Low vitamin D levels were common in this sample of pregnant women and their newborns’ cord blood. Vitamin D supplement intake was the most actionable determinant of vitamin D status, suggesting that vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy should receive more attention in clinical practice.
Dietary intervention may alter the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system and thereby cancer risk. In a qualitative review, eleven of twenty studies showed a link between one or more carotenoids, vegetable or fruit intake and the IGF system, however, with partly contrary findings, such that no firm conclusion can be drawn. Therefore, we evaluated associations between serum carotenoid concentrations or the intake of fruits and vegetables with IGF-1, IGF binding protein (BP)-3 and their molar ratio (IGF-1:IGFBP-3) within the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III, 1988–1994). In our analysis, we included 6061 NHANES III participants and used multivariable-adjusted linear regression models. IGF-1 concentrations were significantly positively associated with serum concentrations of lycopene, β-carotene, α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin and lutein/zeaxanthin in men and women. Statistically significant positive associations were observed for serum concentrations of α-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin and intake of fruits with serum IGFBP-3 concentrations in women, but not in men. The IGF-1:IGFBP-3 molar ratio was significantly positively associated with serum concentrations of lycopene, β-carotene and α-carotene in men and with β-carotene in women. In conclusion, dietary interventions with carotenoids, fruits and vegetables may affect the IGF system, although the direction of these effects is currently unclear.
Meat is a food rich in protein, minerals such as iron and zinc as well as a variety of vitamins, in particular B vitamins. However, the content of cholesterol and saturated fat is higher than in some other food groups. Processed meat is defined as products usually made of red meat that are cured, salted or smoked (e.g. ham or bacon) in order to improve the durability of the food and/or to improve colour and taste, and often contain a high amount of minced fatty tissue (e.g. sausages). Hence, high consumption of processed foods may lead to an increased intake of saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, nitrite, haem iron, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and, depending upon the chosen food preparation method, also heterocyclic amines. Several large cohort studies have shown that a high consumption of processed (red) meat is related to increased overall and cause-specific mortality. A meta-analysis of nine cohort studies observed a higher mortality among high consumers of processed red meat (relative risk (RR) = 1·23; 95 % CI 1·17, 1·28, top v. bottom consumption category), but not unprocessed red meat (RR = 1·10; 95 % CI 0·98, 1·22). Similar associations were reported in a second meta-analysis. All studies argue that plausible mechanisms are available linking processed meat consumption and risk of chronic diseases such as CVD, diabetes mellitus or some types of cancer. However, the results of meta-analyses do show some degree of heterogeneity between studies, and it has to be taken into account that individuals with low red or processed meat consumption tend to have a healthier lifestyle in general. Hence, substantial residual confounding cannot be excluded. Information from other types of studies in man is needed to support a causal role of processed meat in the aetiology of chronic diseases, e.g. studies using the Mendelian randomisation approach.
Cross-sectional studies suggest that dietary supplement use is associated with favourable demographic and lifestyle factors and certain health conditions. However, factors that affect the consistency of supplement use have not been investigated in prospective cohort studies. The aim of the present study was to seek baseline demographic, lifestyle and health-status predictors of subsequent consistent vitamin and/or mineral supplement use. A total of 8968 men and 10 672 women of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Heidelberg cohort, who answered the supplement-use questions in the baseline survey and two follow-up surveys, were categorised into three groups: consistent, inconsistent and never users. At baseline, 28·5 % of men and 38·6 % of women reported vitamin and/or mineral supplement use. After a median follow-up of 8·5 years, 14·6 % of men and 22·9 % of women were consistent users. During follow-up, 36·0 % of male and 26·6 % of female initial users stopped supplement use, whereas 27·8 % of male and 39·4 % of female initial non-users started supplement use. Women were more likely to be consistent users than men. Older age ( ≥ 50 years), lower BMI ( < 25 kg/m2) and self-reported hyperlipidaemia were common predictors of consistent use for both sexes. Additional predictors included higher educational level for men, and being more physically active and higher lifetime alcohol consumption for women. Consistent users had the highest intake of dairy products, fish, fruits and vegetables, and wine but the lowest intake of total meat. We concluded that supplement use is a fairly unstable behaviour in free-living individuals. Individuals with a favourable lifestyle and healthier diet are more likely to show consistent supplementation.
It was the aim of the present study to estimate the intake of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCA) from meat, which have been associated with cancer risk in several epidemiological studies, of 21 462 subjects who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) in Heidelberg. This was accomplished by using a detailed dietary questionnaire that assessed meat consumption, cooking methods, and degree of browning of the respective food items. Median total HCA intake from meat was 31 ng/d (mean 69 ng/d), which was lower than results observed in previous studies. 2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5b]pyridine was the most common HCA in this cohort (median 17; mean 48 ng/d). The present study offers the opportunity of a detailed examination of the associations between meat cooking as well as HCA intake from meat and cancer risk in a prospective way.
To compare the average out-of-home (OH) consumption of foods and beverages, as well as energy intake, among populations from 10 European countries and to describe the characteristics of substantial OH eaters, as defined for the purpose of the present study, in comparison to other individuals.
Cross-sectional study. Dietary data were collected through single 24-hour dietary recalls, in which the place of consumption was recorded. For the present study, substantial OH eaters were defined as those who consumed more than 25% of total daily energy intake at locations other than the household premises. Mean dietary intakes and the proportion of substantial OH eaters are presented by food group and country. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the odds of being a substantial OH eater in comparison to not being one, using mutually adjusted possible non-dietary determinants.
Ten European countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
The subjects were 34 270 individuals, 12 537 men and 21 733 women, aged 35–74 years.
The fraction of energy intake during OH eating was generally higher in northern European countries than in the southern ones. Among the food and beverage groups, those selectively consumed outside the home were coffee/tea/waters and sweets and, to a lesser extent, cereals, meats, added lipids and vegetables. Substantial OH eating was positively associated with energy intake and inversely associated with age and physical activity. Substantial OH eating was less common among the less educated compared with the more educated, and more common during weekdays in central and north Europe and during the weekend in south Europe.
Eating outside the home was associated with sedentary lifestyle and increased energy intake; it was more common among the young and concerned in particular coffee/tea/waters and sweets.
Within a prospective cohort study, we explored the long-term reproducibility of the food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and dietary changes in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Heidelberg cohort. After a mean follow-up time of 68·8 (sd 4·1) months the dietary assessment by means of a validated FFQ was repeated in 21 462 participants in the EPIC-Heidelberg cohort. The correlation and test–retest reproducibility of both dietary intake measurements was explored. The long-term correlation coefficients ranged from 0·41 (vegetables in men) to 0·77 (alcoholic beverage consumption in women). The median intake of potatoes, added fat, sugar/confectionary, cakes and alcoholic beverages was lower in the second than in the first FFQ, whereas the median intake of fruits, vegetables, cereals/cereal products and non-alcoholic beverages were higher. Consistently for food groups, 60–70 % of the participants in both genders were re-classified to the same or adjacent quintile of intake. The results of fairly high correlation coefficients indicate good agreement between both measurements. It is acknowledged that this result reflects to a substantial extent the measurement error of the FFQ and conclusions on real changes in the diet should be drawn very carefully. For some nutrients the dietary changes were consistent with results from independent national surveys. The performance of the FFQ gives confidence in the dietary data to be used as long-term exposure variables.
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.
Development and validation of a short instrument to assess the dietary intake of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCA).
At first, a longer instrument asking for the consumption of 11 meat and fish items and different preparation methods was developed. The degree of browning of these foods was assessed by means of photos. This questionnaire was sent to 500 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) in Heidelberg, Germany, in June 1999. Using 385 completed questionnaires, a short questionnaire was developed covering just seven food items, which was sent to the participants again. Of these, 344 were returned with in four months. Total dietary intake of HCA as well as the intake of different HCA were calculated and compared between both versions.
Median dietary intake of total HCA was 103ng day−1as assessed with the short version; the intakes of 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP),2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx) and 2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (DiMeIQx) were 63, 34 and 2ng day−1, respectively. These results did not differ significantly from those obtained with the longer version. Spearman rank correlation coefficients between the long and the short version ranged from 0.46 to 0.6. In quartile cross-classification, 70–78% of the participants were assigned into the same or an adjacent quartile while categorisation into opposite quartiles was ≤3.5%.
The short version of the HCA questionnaire demonstrates good validity compared with the longer version. The intake of HCA as assessed with the short questionnaire is comparable to that found in other studies using a short questionnaire.
Tree nuts, peanuts and seeds are nutrient dense foods whose intake has been shown to be associated with reduced risk of some chronic diseases. They are regularly consumed in European diets either as whole, in spreads or from hidden sources (e.g. commercial products). However, little is known about their intake profiles or differences in consumption between European countries or geographic regions. The objective of this study was to analyse the population mean intake and average portion sizes in subjects reporting intake of nuts and seeds consumed as whole, derived from hidden sources or from spreads. Data was obtained from standardised 24-hour dietary recalls collected from 36 994 subjects in 10 different countries that are part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Overall, for nuts and seeds consumed as whole, the percentage of subjects reporting intake on the day of the recall was: tree nuts = 4·4%, peanuts = 2·3% and seeds = 1·3%. The data show a clear northern (Sweden: mean intake = 0·15 g/d, average portion size = 15·1 g/d) to southern (Spain: mean intake = 2·99 g/d, average portion size = 34·7 g/d) European gradient of whole tree nut intake. The three most popular tree nuts were walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, respectively. In general, tree nuts were more widely consumed than peanuts or seeds. In subjects reporting intake, men consumed a significantly higher average portion size of tree nuts (28·5 v. 23·1 g/d, P<0·01) and peanuts (46·1 v. 35·1 g/d, P<0·01) per day than women. These data may be useful in devising research initiatives and health policy strategies based on the intake of this food group.
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