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Open Access Research

More distinct food intake patterns among women than men in northern Sweden: a population-based survey

Anna Winkvist1*, Agneta Hörnell2, Göran Hallmans3, Bernt Lindahl4, Lars Weinehall56 and Ingegerd Johansson7

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Nutrition, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden

2 Department of Food and Nutrition, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

3 Nutrition Research, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

4 Behavioral Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

5 Department of Community Medicine, Västerbotten County Council, Umeå, Sweden

6 Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

7 Cariology, Department of Odontology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

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Nutrition Journal 2009, 8:12  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-8-12

Published: 19 February 2009

Abstract

Background

The need to promote a healthy diet to curb the current obesity epidemic has today been recognized by most countries. A prerequisite for planning and evaluating interventions on dietary intake is the existence of valid information on long-term average dietary intake in a population. Few large, population-based studies of dietary intake have been carried out in Sweden. The largest to date is the Västerbotten Intervention Program (VIP), which was initiated in 1985, with data collection still ongoing. This paper reports on the first comprehensive analyses of the dietary data and presents dietary intake patterns among over 60,000 women and men in northern Sweden during 1992–2005.

Methods

Between 1992 and 2005, 71,367 inhabitants in Västerbotten county aged 30, 40, 50, and 60 years visited their local health care center as part of the VIP. Participants of VIP filled in an 84- or 64-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and provided sociodemographic information. Complete and realistic information on consumption frequency was provided by 62,531 individuals. Food intake patterns were analyzed using K-means cluster analyses.

Results

The mean daily energy intake was 6,83 (± 1,77) MJ among women and 8,71 (± 2,26) MJ among men. More than half of both women and men were classified as Low Energy Reporters (defined as individuals reporting a food intake level below the lower 95% confidence interval limit of the physical activity level). Larger variation in frequency of daily intake was seen among women than among men for most food groups. Among women, four dietary clusters were identified, labeled "Fruit and vegetables", "High fat", "Coffee and sandwich", and "Tea and ice cream". Among men, three dietary clusters were identified, labeled "Fruit and vegetables", "High fat", and "Tea, soda and cookies".

Conclusion

More distinct food intake patterns were seen among women than men in this study in northern Sweden. Due to large proportions of Low Energy Reporters, our results on dietary intake may not be suitable for comparisons with recommended intake levels. However, the results on food intake patterns should still be valid and useful as a basis for targeting interventions to groups most in need.