Geographic and socioeconomic diversity of food and nutrient intakes: a comparison of four European countries

Elly Mertens*, Anneleen Kuijsten, Marcela Dofková, Lorenza Mistura, Laura D'Addezio, Aida Turrini, Carine Dubuisson, Sandra Favret, Sabrina Havard, Ellen Trolle, Pieter Van't Veer, Johanna M Geleijnse

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose Public health policies and actions increasingly acknowledge the climate burden of food consumption. The aim ofthis study is to describe dietary intakes across four European countries, as baseline for further research towards healthierand environmentally-friendlier diets for Europe.Methods Individual-level dietary intake data in adults were obtained from nationally-representative surveys from Denmarkand France using a 7-day diet record, Italy using a 3-day diet record, and Czech Republic using two replicates of a 24-h recall.Energy-standardised food and nutrient intakes were calculated for each subject from the mean of two randomly selected days. Results There was clear geographical variability, with a between-country range for mean fruit intake from 118 to 199 g/day,for vegetables from 95 to 239 g/day, for fish from 12 to 45 g/day, for dairy from 129 to 302 g/day, for sweet beverages from48 to 224 ml/day, and for alcohol from 8 to 15 g/day, with higher intakes in Italy for fruit, vegetables and fish, and in Denmarkfor dairy, sweet beverages and alcohol. In all countries, intakes were low for legumes (<20 g/day), and nuts and seeds(<5 g/day), but high for red and processed meat (>80 g/day). Within countries, food intakes also varied by socio-economicfactors such as age, gender, and educational level, but less pronounced by anthropometric factors such as overweight status.For nutrients, intakes were low for dietary fibre (15.8–19.4 g/day) and vitamin D (2.4–3.0 µg/day) in all countries, for potassium(2288–2938 mg/day) and magnesium (268–285 mg/day) except in Denmark, for vitamin E in Denmark (6.7 mg/day),and for folate in Czech Republic (212 µg/day). Conclusions There is considerable variation in food and nutrient intakes across Europe, not only between, but also withincountries. Individual-level dietary data provide insight into the heterogeneity of dietary habits beyond per capita food supplydata, and this is crucial to balancing healthy and environmentally-friendly diets for European citizens.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Diet
  • Dietary guidelines
  • Europe
  • Foods
  • Nutrients

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