Dietary investigations in four central European survey populations carried out in the German Democratic Republic, Poland and Denmark between 1982 and 1984 using different methodologies were analysed in order to assess the possibilities of characterizing the dietary habits of individual survey participants in a comparable fashion. This was done with the view of assessing the feasibility of a pooled cancer cohort study. For this purpose a method has been devised to combine dietary information derived by food frequency questionnaires and quantitative recording methods into a quantitative characterization of individuals' habits. A comparable characterization between different cultural settings could be demonstrated for a selected list of food items. The selection was determined by the food items considered in common in the different food frequency questionnaires and yielding sufficient and comparable variation as well as absolute amounts of intake. This was more clearly found for food items such as 'fruit' which experience a concise role in dietary habits. However, the observed discrepancies of the different dietary methods within the countries, and, most importantly, between the countries, result in distributions of average daily consumption values which are not deemed to be comparable.
In November 1988 a random sample of 435 men and women aged 70-75 years from the general population in Roskilde, a provincial town in Denmark, were invited to participate in a study of nutrition and health. Forty-six per cent of the total sample agreed to participate. The total sample could be characterized by socio-economic variables and data on previous hospitalizations obtained from public registers. A subgroup of the non-participants could be further characterized by some of the topics under study using information obtained by telephone interviews. It was found that the non-participants differed from participants by selected health variables. More non-participants than participants had been hospitalized one year before contact. Telephone interviews with non-participants revealed generally poorer self-judged health and less-frequent eating of cooked meals compared with participants. The degree of bias introduced by this selectivity is estimated by weighting and by a minimum/maximum calculation. Review of participation in previous studies of nutrition and health in the elderly shows that problems with non-participation have been treated in various ways. It is concluded that consideration of factors discriminating between participants and non-participants is important for proper estimation of population parameters.
OBJECTIVE: To describe 10 year trends and individual changes in food habits of Danish men and women in relation to dietary recommendations using data from both a cohort and a repeated cross-sectional study, and to examine whether the two sampling methods give similar results. DESIGN: Baseline data were collected in 1982-1984 and respectively repeated measurements for cohort and cross-sectional changes in food habits. SETTING: The County of Copenhagen, Denmark. SUBJECTS: Men and women aged 30-70y in 1982-1984, 1986-1988 and 1992-1994. The trend analyses included 3785 subjects for cohort and 7316 for cross-sectional study, respectively. Longitudinal changes were studied among 2430 individuals with food data from all three examinations. METHODS: Food intakes were estimated using a short food frequency questionnaire. RESULTS: During the study period both men and women reported a decreased intake frequency of animal and vegetable fats, milk, eggs, meat products, white bread and potatoes, while they had increased intakes of low-fat margarine, fruit, raw vegetables, coarse breads, oatmeal, pasta, rice, cakes and candy. In both men and women the decrease in the consumption frequency of, white bread and potatoes, and the increase in pasta, and candy, were higher in the younger than in the older age group. In contrast, the increased consumption frequency of coarse breads, and oatmeal were most pronounced in the older age groups. For most foods the cohort and the repeated cross-sectional surveys gave similar results. CONCLUSIONS: From 1982 through 1994 the food habits of middle-aged Danish men and women changed in the direction of a more healthy diet as recommended by health authorities. With the limitation of a possible reporting bias both the cohort and repeated cross-sectional study designs may be used for monitoring changes in food intake.
BACKGROUND: In studies from Italy and Greece a Mediterranean dietary pattern predicts overall survival. Despite an increase in the movement of food around the world, there is still a wide spectrum of dietary patterns and the aim of the present study was to examine the association between a Mediterranean dietary pattern and mortality in a cohort of elderly people living in a North European Community. METHODS: Diet and nutritional status was studied among 202 men and women born 1914-1918 and living in a Danish Municipality (Roskilde) in 1988. They were followed for 6 years. RESULTS: A diet score, with seven dietary characteristics of the Mediterranean diet, was associated with a significant reduction in overall mortality. A one unit increase in the diet score predicted a 21% (95% confidence interval 2-36%) reduction in mortality. Subjects with high diet scores (> or = 4) had significantly higher plasma carotene levels than those with a low score and plasma carotene was negatively associated with mortality. CONCLUSION: A Mediterranean diet score predicts survival in a North European population. Plasma carotene may serve as an intermediate factor in this association.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of old people at risk of undernutrition according to the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), characterise the at risk group with regard to nutritional state, energy intake, and physical and mental functioning, and to assess the consequences of the MNA score over a 6 month period. DESIGN: A cross-sectional prospective study. SETTING: The clinic of a general practitioner. SUBJECTS: Ninety-four patients 65+-y-old with no acute illness contacted at the clinic. Sixty-one subjects (65%) agreed to participate at baseline and 34 (56%) showed up at the follow-up 6 months later. RESULTS: At baseline, 23 (38%) participants were assessed as being at risk of undernutrition (17-23.5 MNA points). The remaining were classified as well-nourished (>23.5 MNA points). The 23 participants at risk had a higher prevalence of body mass index (BMI)