The aim was to describe the energy intake and composition of the diet of 1200 9-, 12-, 15-, 18-, 21- and 24-year-old Finns in 1986 and changes in their diet from 1980 to 1986. Data on food consumption were collected using the 48 h recall method. In 1980 protein accounted for 14%, fat for 38% and carbohydrates for 48% of total energy intake, and in 1986 for 15%, 38% and 47%, respectively. The mean P/S ratio increased from 0.24 to 0.31 while the regional differences in the intakes of fatty acids remained unchanged, the P/S ratio being higher in urban than in rural areas and higher in western than in eastern Finland. In 1986 the diet of 15-, 18- and 24-year-old males contained more fat, saturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids but less sucrose than that of females. The difference in the diet between young men and women, if continued, might increase the male/female ratio at risk for coronary heart disease, which is already pronounced in Finland.
An estimate of the dietary intakes of nitrite, nitrate and N-nitroso compounds is presented, based on the analytical data supplied by the Finnish Food Quality Control. Figures on the food consumption of the Finnish population, taken from a national dietary survey, and food consumption of 1768 children and adolescents over a 48-h recall period were used. The mean daily dietary nitrate intakes were estimated to be about 55 mg for the total population and for children and adolescents. The mean nitrite intakes were 1.88 mg for the total population and 1.07 mg for children and adolescents. The intake of N-nitroso compounds (NDMA) was estimated to be 0.08 micrograms for the total population and 0.02 micrograms for children. Nitrates were found to originate mainly from vegetables (80%), nitrites from meat products (97%) and nitrosamines mostly from fish products and beer. A comparison of the estimate of dietary intake of with ADI values indicated that the nitrite intake of the total population was 23% and by children 39% of ADI. The average weight was approximately 60 kg for adults and 20 kg for children. When measured average weight (39 kg) was used, and the nitrite intake was found to be 28% of ADI. Nitrate intakes from food additives were 2.5% and 1.4% of the ADI value, respectively. When the total nitrate intake from various food sources was compared with the ADI (which is given only for food additives), the estimated nitrate intake of the total population was 25% and that of children 28% of the ADI value.
The composition of fatty acids in serum lipids has been shown to reflect the quality of dietary fat. In order to examine the long-term stability (tracking) of the serum (and hence dietary) fatty acid composition serum cholesteryl ester fatty acids were analysed by gas chromatography in a randomly selected population sample of 1029 Finnish boys and girls aged 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 years, and again from the same individuals 3 years later. The tracking was evaluated by calculating linear correlation coefficients for the percentages of individual fatty acids between the 2 time points. For all fatty acids the correlations were highly significant, e.g. for linoleate and arachidonate they were 0.58 and 0.61, respectively. In 1980 the means of the percentages of some fatty acids showed certain differences between the various age and sex groups; in 1983 these differences had become smaller and had largely shifted towards three years older age groups, implying that the differences were due to dietary differences between the cohorts rather than to age and sex per se. The present results indicate that serum fatty acid composition has a fairly good biological reproducibility (tracking) and suggest that age and sex as such are only minor determinants of the serum fatty acid composition.