Region-specific nutrient intake patterns exhibit a geographical gradient within and between European countries

Heinz Freisling, Michael T. Fahey, Aurelie Moskal, Marga C. Ocké, Pietro Ferrari, Mazda Jenab, Teresa Norat, Androniki Naska, Ailsa A.Welch, Carmen Navarro, Mandy Schulz, [No Value] ElisabetWirfält, Corinne Casagrande, Pilar Amiano, Eva Ardanaz, Christine Parr, Dagrun Engeset, Sara Grioni, Francesco Sera, Bas Bueno-de-MesquitaYvonne T. Van Der Schouw, Mathilde Touvier, Marie Christine Boutron-Ruault, Jytte Halkjær, Christina C. Dahm, Kay Tee Khaw, Francesca Crowe, Jakob Linseisen, Janine Kröger, Inge Huybrechts, Geneviève Deharveng, Jonas Manjer, Asa Agren, Antonia Trichopoulou, Kostas Tsiotas, Elio Riboli, Sheila Bingham, Nadia Slimani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Until recently, the study of nutrient patterns was hampered at an international level by a lack of standardization of both dietary methods and nutrient databases. We aimed to describe the diversity of nutrient patterns in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study at population level as a starting point for future nutrient pattern analyses and their associations with chronic diseases in multi-center studies. In this cross-sectional study, 36,034 persons aged 35-74 y were administered a single, standardized 24-h dietary recall. Intake of 25 nutrients (excluding intake from dietary supplements) was estimated using a standardized nutrient database. We used a graphic presentation of mean nutrient intakes by region and sex relative to the overall EPIC means to contrast patterns within and between 10 European countries. In Mediterranean regions, including Greece, Italy, and the southern centers of Spain, the nutrient pattern was dominated by relatively high intakes of vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), whereas intakes of retinol and vitamin D were relatively low. In contrast, in Nordic countries, including Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, reported intake of these same nutrients resulted in almost the opposite pattern. Population groups in Germany, The Netherlands, and the UK shared a fatty acid pattern of relatively high intakes of PUFA and SFA and relatively low intakes of MUFA, in combination with a relatively high intake of sugar. We confirmed large variability in nutrient intakes across the EPIC study populations and identified 3 main region-specific patterns with a geographical gradient within and between European countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1280-1286
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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