Few studies exist on the validity of food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) administered to elderly people. The aim of this study was to assess the validity of a short FFQ on present dietary intake, developed specially for the AGES-Reykjavik Study, which includes 5,764 elderly individuals. Assessing the validity of FFQs is essential before they are used in studies on diet-related disease risk and health outcomes.
128 healthy elderly participants (74 y ± 5.7; 58.6% female) answered the AGES-FFQ, and subsequently filled out a 3-day weighed food record. Validity of the AGES-FFQ was assessed by comparing its answers to the dietary data obtained from the weighed food records, using Spearman's rank correlation, Chi-Square/Kendall's tau, and a Jonckheere-Terpstra test for trend.
For men a correlation = 0.4 was found for potatoes, fresh fruits, oatmeal/muesli, cakes/cookies, candy, dairy products, milk, pure fruit juice, cod liver oil, coffee, tea and sugar in coffee/tea (r = 0.40-0.71). A lower, but acceptable, correlation was also found for raw vegetables (r = 0.33). The highest correlation for women was found for consumption of rye bread, oatmeal/muesli, raw vegetables, candy, dairy products, milk, pure fruit juice, cod liver oil, coffee and tea (r = 0.40-0.61). An acceptable correlation was also found for fish topping/salad, fresh fruit, blood/liver sausage, whole-wheat bread, and sugar in coffee/tea (r = 0.28-0.37). Questions on meat/fish meals, cooked vegetables and soft drinks did not show a significant correlation to the reference method. Pearson Chi-Square and Kendall's tau showed similar results, as did the Jonckheere-Terpstra trend test.
A majority of the questions in the AGES-FFQ had an acceptable correlation and may be used to rank individuals according to their level of intake of several important foods/food groups. The AGES-FFQ on present diet may therefore be used to study the relationship between consumption of several specific foods/food groups and various health-related endpoints gathered in the AGES-Reykjavik Study.
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No available dietary assessment method is without error in measuring dietary intake. This has led to an increased interest in biological markers of dietary intake. This article is a review of the literature investigating whether the concentration of carotenoids in blood can serve as biological markers for the intake of fruit and vegetables. The literature indicates an association between intake of fruit and vegetables and the concentration of total carotenoids, alfa-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein and beta-cryptoxanthin in plasma. The same association was not observed for plasma lycopene. Results from several studies also indicate that plasma alfa-carotene and plasma total carotenoids are more suitable as biological markers of the intake of fruit and vegetables than the other carotenoids. As there are large individual variations in the plasma carotenoid response after intake, carotenoids in blood will be a better marker of intake at group level than individual level. Furthermore, the average value from several measurements of carotenoids in blood will be a better marker of long-term intake than a single measurement. Several factors in addition to fruit and vegetables influence the concentration of carotenoids in blood. It is important to assess these factors when carotenoids in blood are used as biological markers of the intake of fruit and vegetables.
Knowledge of dietary habits makes the basis for public nutrition policy. The aim of this study was to assess dietary intake of Icelandic six-year-olds.
Subjects were randomly selected six-year-old children (n=162). Dietary intake was assessed by three-day-weighed food records. Food and nutrient intake was compared with the Icelandic food based dietary guidelines (FBDG) and recommended intake of vitamins and minerals.
Fruit and vegetable intake was on average 275Â±164 g/d, and less than 20% of the subjects consumed =400 g/day. Fish and cod liver oil intake was in line with the FBDG among approximately 25% of subjects. Most subjects (87%) consumed at least two portions of dairy products daily. Food with relatively low nutrient density (cakes, cookies, sugar sweetened drinks, sweets and ice-cream) provided up to 25% of total energy intake. The contribution of saturated fatty acids to total energy intake was 14.1%. Less than 20% of the children consumed dietary fibers in line with recommendations, and for saturated fat and salt only 5% consumed less than the recommended upper limits. Average intake of most vitamins and minerals, apart from vitamin-D, was higher than the recommended intake.
Although the vitamin and mineral density of the diet seems adequate, with the exception of vitamin-D, the contribution of low energy density food to total energy intake is high. Intake of vegetables, fruits, fish and cod liver oil is not in line with public recommendations. Strategies aiming at improving diet of young children are needed.
We examined whether there are sex differences in children's fruit and vegetable (FV) intake and in descriptive norms (i.e. perceived FV intake) related to parents and friends. We also studied whether friends' impact is as important as that of parents on children's FV intake. Data from the PRO GREENS project in Finland were obtained from 424 children at the age 11 years at baseline. At baseline, 2009 children filled in a questionnaire about descriptive norms conceptualised as perceived FV intake of their parents and friends. They also filled in a validated FFQ that assessed their FV intake both at baseline and in the follow-up in 2010. The associations were examined with multi-level regression analyses with multi-group comparisons. Girls reported higher perceived FV intake of friends and higher own fruit intake at baseline, compared with boys, and higher vegetable intake both at baseline and in the follow-up. Perceived FV intake of parents and friends was positively associated with both girls' and boys' FV intake in both study years. The impact of perceived fruit intake of the mother was stronger among boys. The change in children's FV intake was affected only by perceived FV intake of father and friends. No large sex differences in descriptive norms were found, but the impact of friends on children's FV intake can generally be considered as important as that of parents. Future interventions could benefit from taking into account friends' impact as role models on children's FV intake.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: An adequate fruit and vegetable intake provides essential nutrients and nutritive compounds and is considered an important part of a healthy lifestyle. No simple instrument has been available for the assessment of fruit and vegetable intake as well as its determinants in school-aged children applicable in different European countries. Within the Pro Children Project, such an instrument has been developed. This paper describes the cross-sectional survey in 11-year-olds in 9 countries. METHODS: The cross-sectional survey used nationally, and in 2 countries regionally, representative samples of schools and classes. The questionnaires, including a precoded 24-hour recall component and a food frequency part, were completed in the classroom. Data were treated using common syntax files for portion sizes and for merging of vegetable types into four subgroups. RESULTS: The results show that the fruit and vegetable intake in amounts and choice were highly diverse in the 9 participating countries. Vegetable intake was in general lower than fruit intake, boys consumed less fruit and vegetables than girls did. The highest total intake according to the 24-hour recall was found in Austria and Portugal, the lowest in Spain and Iceland. CONCLUSION: The fruit and vegetable intake in 11-year-old children was in all countries far from reaching population goals and food-based dietary guidelines on national and international levels.
OBJECTIVE: To describe and compare fruit and vegetable intakes of mothers of 11-year-old children across Europe. METHODS: Cross-sectional surveys were carried out in 9 European countries in October/November 2003. Self-administered questionnaires assessing fruit and vegetable consumption were used for data collection. The current paper presents dietary intake data obtained by a precoded 24-hour recall and a food frequency questionnaire. RESULTS: The consumption levels of fruit and vegetables (without fruit juice) were in line with World Health Organization recommendations of > or =400 g/day for only 27% of all participating mothers. Based on both instruments, the Pro Children results showed comparatively high average fruit intake levels in Portugal, Denmark and Sweden (211, 203 and 194 g/day) and the lowest intake in Iceland (97 g/day). High vegetable intake levels were found in Portugal and Belgium (169 and 150 g/day), the lowest in Spain (88 g/day). A south-north gradient could not be observed in the Pro Children study. CONCLUSION: Fruit and vegetable intakes are low in mothers of 11-year-olds across Europe. Especially vegetable consumption can be regarded as marginal in most of the studied European countries. A high percentage of mothers indicated to eat fruit and vegetables less than once a day. The results have shown that national and international interventions are necessary to promote fruit and especially vegetable consumption in the European population of mothers.
BACKGROUND: Enhanced cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression is associated with carcinogenesis, ischemia, angiogenesis, inflammation, and neurodegeneration. The preventing effect of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is partly due to inhibition of the COX-2 enzyme. Fruit and vegetables (FVs) contain numerous compounds that may decrease disease risk by several different mechanisms, for example through the inhibition of COX-2 activity. OBJECTIVE: We tested the hypothesis that an increased intake of FVs would modulate the COX-2 expression in peripheral blood cells. DESIGN: A strictly controlled dietary crossover study (n = 39). After 1 week run-in period with no FVs in the diet, one group was given two portions of FVs (2 FV), while another group was given five portions (5 FV) daily for 14 days. Following a 2 weeks washout period and 1 week run-in, the regimens were switched between the groups. Gene expression analysis of COX-2 mRNA in blood samples was performed by quantitative real-time-PCR. RESULTS: No significant treatment effect of diet intervention was found in the crossover analyses (P = 0.74). However, the individual variation in response may seem large. CONCLUSIONS: These data does not contradict the recommendations for an increased intake of FVs. Further studies on expression directly and indirectly, through analysis of factors regulating and being regulated by COX-2, should be carried out. A first step would be to evaluate the correspondence between COX-2 mRNA expression and products of the COX pathway, like prostaglandins. Naturally occurring polymorphisms of COX-2 promoters and coding regions might contribute to functional variations and response to different diets. SPONSORSHIP: Norwegian Research Council, National Nutrition Council, Throne Holst Foundation for Nutrition Research, Freia Chokoladefabriks Medisinske Fond and the Norwegian Cancer Society.
Little is known about the mediating effects of the determinants of fruit and vegetable (FV) intake in school-based interventions that promote FV intake, and few studies have examined the impact of the degree of implementation on the effects of an intervention. The present study examined whether the degree of implementation of an intervention had an effect on children's fruit or vegetable intake and determined possible mediators of this effect. The study is part of the European PRO GREENS intervention study which aimed to develop effective strategies to promote consumption of fruit and vegetables in schoolchildren across Europe. Data from 727 Finnish children aged 11 years were used. The baseline study was conducted in spring 2009 and the follow-up study 12 months later. The intervention was conducted during the school year 2009-2010. The effects were examined using multilevel mediation analyses. A high degree of implementation of the intervention had an effect on children's fruit intake. Knowledge of recommendations for FV intake and liking mediated the association between a high degree of implementation of the intervention and an increase in the frequency of fruit intake. Knowledge of recommendations for FV intake and bringing fruits to school as a snack mediated the association between a low degree of implementation of the intervention and an increase in the frequency of fruit intake. Overall, the model accounted for 34 % of the variance in the change in fruit intake frequency. Knowledge of recommendations acted as a mediator between the degree of implementation of the intervention and the change in vegetable intake frequency. In conclusion, the degree of implementation had an effect on fruit intake, and thus in future intervention studies the actual degree of implementation of interventions should be assessed when considering the effects of interventions.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The Pro Children Project was designed to assess fruit and vegetable consumption in European schoolchildren and their parents, as well as determinants of the children's consumption patterns. A second objective was to develop and test strategies, applicable across Europe, for promoting consumption of fruits and vegetables among schoolchildren and their parents. In this paper, the rationale, theoretical background, overall design and implementation of the project is presented. METHODS: Surveys of national, representative samples of 11-year-old schoolchildren and their parents were conducted in 9 countries, i.e. in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Comprehensive school-based educational programmes have been developed and tested in three settings, i.e. in Spain, the Netherlands and in Norway. A precoded 24-hour recall form combined with a set of food frequency questions assessing regular intake were used to assess fruit and vegetable consumption. Determinants were assessed employing a comprehensive theoretical framework including personal, social and environmental factors related to fruit and vegetable consumption. The intervention programmes have been tested employing a group-randomized trial design where schools have been randomly allocated to an intervention arm and a delayed intervention arm. Surveys among all participating children and their parents were conducted prior to the initiation of the intervention, immediately after the end of the intervention and at the end of the subsequent school year. CONCLUSION: The project is expected to provide new information of great importance for improving our understanding of consumption patterns of fruits and vegetables and for guiding future efforts to promote increased consumption patterns across Europe.
BACKGROUND: There is a need for objective and universally applicable biomarkers for the intake of foods believed to affect human health. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this feeding study was to test whether plasma concentrations of carotenoids could be used to distinguish recommended consumption of mixed fruits and vegetables (five a day) from the current national intake of fruits and vegetables (two a day). DESIGN: A strict crossover design was chosen to correct for observed interindividual variations in carotenoid response. A total of 40 healthy subjects were included in the study. After 1 week run-in period with no fruits and vegetables in the diet, one group was given two portions (300 g) of fruits and vegetables daily, while another group was given five portions (750 g) for 14 days. Following a 2 week wash-out period and 1 week run-in, the regimens were switched between the groups. Fruits and vegetables were combined to match a typical Norwegian diet. RESULTS: Enhanced intake from two to five portions of mixed fruits and vegetables increased plasma concentrations of alpha-carotene (P=0.033) and lutein (P=0.051) in a crossover analysis. Analysis of data in the parallel part of the study revealed differences between the high and low intake for plasma concentrations of alpha-carotene (P=0.013) and beta-carotene (P=0.016). A trend was also evident for plasma concentrations of lycopene (P=0.057) and lutein (P=0.076) in the parallel analysis. No effect of high vs low intake of fruits and vegetables was observed for plasma concentrations of beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, cholesterol and triacylglycerols. CONCLUSION: The study indicates that plasma concentration of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein may be used to assess changes of fruit and vegetable intake corresponding to an increase from the present national intake in Norway to the recommended amount of five portions of fruits and vegetables daily. SPONSORSHIP: Norwegian Research Council, National Nutrition Council, Throne Holst Foundation for Nutrition Research and Freia Chokoladefabriks Medisinske Fond.