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Eating out has been linked to the current obesity epidemic, but the evaluation of the extent to which out of home (OH) dietary intakes are different from those at home (AH) is limited. Data collected among 8849 men and 14 277 women aged 35–64 years from the general population of eleven European countries through 24-h dietary recalls or food diaries were analysed to: (1) compare food consumption OH to those AH; (2) describe the characteristics of substantial OH eaters, defined as those who consumed 25 % or more of their total daily energy intake at OH locations. Logistic regression models were fit to identify personal characteristics associated with eating out. In both sexes, beverages, sugar, desserts, sweet and savoury bakery products were consumed more OH than AH. In some countries, men reported higher intakes of fish OH than AH. Overall, substantial OH eating was more common among men, the younger and the more educated participants, but was weakly associated with total energy intake. The substantial OH eaters reported similar dietary intakes OH and AH. Individuals who were not identified as substantial OH eaters reported consuming proportionally higher quantities of sweet and savoury bakery products, soft drinks, juices and other non-alcoholic beverages OH than AH. The OH intakes were different from the AH ones, only among individuals who reported a relatively small contribution of OH eating to their daily intakes and this may partly explain the inconsistent findings relating eating out to the current obesity epidemic.
Pattern analysis has emerged as a tool to depict the role of multiple nutrients/foods in relation to health outcomes. The present study aimed at extracting nutrient patterns with respect to breast cancer (BC) aetiology.
Nutrient patterns were derived with treelet transform (TT) and related to BC risk. TT was applied to twenty-three log-transformed nutrient densities from dietary questionnaires. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % confidence intervals computed using Cox proportional hazards models quantified the association between quintiles of nutrient pattern scores and risk of overall BC, and by hormonal receptor and menopausal status. Principal component analysis was applied for comparison.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Women (n 334 850) from the EPIC study.
The first TT component (TC1) highlighted a pattern rich in nutrients found in animal foods loading on cholesterol, protein, retinol, vitamins B12 and D, while the second TT component (TC2) reflected a diet rich in β-carotene, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamins C and B6, fibre, Fe, Ca, K, Mg, P and folate. While TC1 was not associated with BC risk, TC2 was inversely associated with BC risk overall (HRQ5 v. Q1=0·89, 95 % CI 0·83, 0·95, Ptrend<0·01) and showed a significantly lower risk in oestrogen receptor-positive (HRQ5 v. Q1=0·89, 95 % CI 0·81, 0·98, Ptrend=0·02) and progesterone receptor-positive tumours (HRQ5 v. Q1=0·87, 95 % CI 0·77, 0·98, Ptrend<0·01).
TT produces readily interpretable sparse components explaining similar amounts of variation as principal component analysis. Our results suggest that participants with a nutrient pattern high in micronutrients found in vegetables, fruits and cereals had a lower risk of BC.
Health-beneficial effects of adhering to a healthy Nordic diet index have been suggested. However, it has not been examined to what extent the included dietary components are exclusively related to the Nordic countries or if they are part of other European diets as well, suggesting a broader preventive potential. The present study describes the intake of seven a priori defined healthy food items (apples/pears, berries, cabbages, dark bread, shellfish, fish and root vegetables) across ten countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) and examines their consumption across Europe.
Cross-sectional study. A 24 h dietary recall was administered through a software program containing country-specific recipes. Sex-specific mean food intake was calculated for each centre/country, as well as percentage of overall food groups consumed as healthy Nordic food items. All analyses were weighted by day and season of data collection.
Multi-centre, European study.
Persons (n 36 970) aged 35–74 years, constituting a random sample of 519 978 EPIC participants.
The highest intakes of the included diet components were: cabbages and berries in Central Europe; apples/pears in Southern Europe; dark bread in Norway, Denmark and Greece; fish in Southern and Northern countries; shellfish in Spain; and root vegetables in Northern and Central Europe. Large inter-centre variation, however, existed in some countries.
Dark bread, root vegetables and fish are strongly related to a Nordic dietary tradition. Apples/pears, berries, cabbages, fish, shellfish and root vegetables are broadly consumed in Europe, and may thus be included in regional public health campaigns.
The UK Food Standards Agency convened an international group of expert scientists to review the Agency-funded projects on diet and bone health in the context of developments in the field as a whole. The potential benefits of fruit and vegetables, vitamin K, early-life nutrition and vitamin D on bone health were presented and reviewed. The workshop reached two conclusions which have public health implications. First, that promoting a diet rich in fruit and vegetable intakes might be beneficial to bone health and would be very unlikely to produce adverse consequences on bone health. The mechanism(s) for any effect of fruit and vegetables remains unknown, but the results from these projects did not support the postulated acid–base balance hypothesis. Secondly, increased dietary consumption of vitamin K may contribute to bone health, possibly through its ability to increase the γ-carboxylation status of bone proteins such as osteocalcin. A supplementation trial comparing vitamin K supplementation with Ca and vitamin D showed an additional effect of vitamin K against baseline levels of bone mineral density, but the benefit was only seen at one bone site. The major research gap identified was the need to investigate vitamin D status to define deficiency, insufficiency and depletion across age and ethnic groups in relation to bone health.
To investigate the association of a posteriori dietary patterns with overall survival of older Europeans.
Design and setting
This is a multi-centre cohort study. Cox regression analysis was used to investigate the association of the prevailing, a posteriori-derived, plant-based dietary pattern with all-cause mortality in a population of subjects who were 60 years or older at recruitment to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Elderly cohort). Analyses controlled for all known potential risk factors.
In total, 74 607 men and women, 60 years or older at enrolment and without previous coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer, with complete information about dietary intakes and potentially confounding variables, and with known survival status as of December 2003, were included in the analysis.
An increase in the score which measures the adherence to the plant-based diet was associated with a lower overall mortality, a one standard deviation increment corresponding to a statistically significant reduction of 14% (95% confidence interval 5–23%). In country-specific analyses the apparent association was stronger in Greece, Spain, Denmark and The Netherlands, and absent in the UK and Germany.
Greater adherence to the plant-based diet that was defined a posteriori in this population of European elders is associated with lower all-cause mortality. This dietary score is moderately positively correlated with the Modified Mediterranean Diet Score that has been constructed a priori and was also shown to be beneficial for the survival of the same EPIC-Elderly cohort.
To determine whether responses to simple dietary questions are associated with specific causes of death.
Self-reported frequency intakes of various classes of foods and data on confounding factors were collected at the baseline survey. Death notifications up to 31 December 1997 were ascertained from the Office for National Statistics. Relative risk (RR) of death and 95% confidence intervals (CI) associated with baseline dietary factors were calculated by Cox regression.
Prospective follow-up study based on five UK general practices.
Data were used from 11 090 men and women aged 35–64 years (81% of the eligible patient population) who responded to a postal questionnaire in 1989.
After 9 years of follow-up, 598 deaths were recorded, 514 of these among the 10 522 subjects with no previous history of angina. All-cause mortality was positively associated with age, smoking and low social class, as expected. Among the dietary variables, all-cause mortality was significantly reduced in participants who reported relatively high consumption of vegetables, puddings, cakes, biscuits and sweets, fresh or frozen red meat (but not processed meat), among those who reported using polyunsaturated spreads and among moderate alcohol drinkers. These associations were broadly similar for deaths from ischaemic heart disease (IHD), cancer and all other causes combined, and were not greatly attenuated by adjusting for potential confounding factors including social class.
Responses to simple questions about nutrition were associated with mortality. These findings must be interpreted with caution since residual confounding by dietary and lifestyle factors may underlie the associations.
In addition to their possible direct biological effects, plasma carotenoids can be used as biochemical markers of fruit and vegetable consumption for identifying diet–disease associations in epidemiological studies. Few studies have compared levels of these carotenoids between countries in Europe.
Our aim was to assess the variability of plasma carotenoid levels within the cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Plasma levels of six carotenoids – α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin – were measured cross-sectionally in 3043 study subjects from 16 regions in nine European countries. We investigated the relative influence of gender, season, age, body mass index (BMI), alcohol intake and smoking status on plasma levels of the carotenoids.
Mean plasma level of the sum of the six carotenoids varied twofold between regions (1.35μmoll−1 for men in Malmö, Sweden vs. 2.79μmoll−1 for men in Ragusa/Naples, Italy; 1.61μmoll−1 for women in The Netherlands vs. 3.52μmoll−1 in Ragusa/Naples, Italy). Mean levels of individual carotenoids varied up to fourfold (α-carotene: 0.06μmoll−1 for men in Murcia, Spain vs. 0.25μmoll−1 for vegetarian men living in the UK). In multivariate regression analyses, region was the most important predictor of total plasma carotenoid level (partial R2=27.3%), followed by BMI (partial R2=5.2%), gender (partial R2=2.7%) and smoking status (partial R2=2.8%). Females had higher total carotenoid levels than males across Europe.
Plasma levels of carotenoids vary substantially between 16 different regions in Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands. Compared with region of residence, the other demographic and lifestyle factors and laboratory measurements have limited predictive value for plasma carotenoid levels in Europe.
We investigated whether life-long adherence to a vegetarian diet is associated with adult height, age at menarche, adult body weight and body mass index (BMI), used as indicators of growth, development and obesity, in a large sample of adults.
This was a cross-sectional study. Anthropometric data and information on age, ethnicity, education, age at menarche and age at becoming a vegetarian were obtained through a questionnaire. Self-reported height and weight were calibrated using predictive equations derived from a previous validation study.
The study includes 45 962 British men and women aged ≥ 20 years of whom 16 083 were vegetarians (not eating fish or meat).
In men and women, there were no significant differences in height, weight or BMI between life-long vegetarians (n = 125 (men) and n = 265 (women)) and people who became vegetarian at age ≥ 20 years (n = 3122 (men) and n = 8137 (women)). Nor was there a significant difference in age at menarche between life-long vegetarian women and women who became vegetarian at age ≥ 20 years.
This study suggests that, compared with people who become vegetarian when adult, life-long vegetarians do not differ in adult height, weight, BMI or age at menarche in women.
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