Food consumption patterns in the adult population of the Basque Country (EINUT-I)

J Aranceta, C Pérez Rodrigo, I Eguileor, I Marzana, L González de Galdeano, J Saenz de Buruaga
Public Health Nutrition 1998, 1 (3): 185-92

OBJECTIVE: Dietary surveys are a valuable tool in nutrition surveillance programmes to monitor the nutritional status of a group or population of a country. The objective of this study was to assess the food consumption pattern in the adult population of the Basque Country (Spain).

DESIGN: A cross-sectional nutritional survey was carried out in 1990. Dietary habits were assessed by means of '24-h recall' during 3 non-consecutive days and a food frequency questionnaire.

SETTING: Population survey in the Basque Country (Spain).

SUBJECTS: Random sample of the adult population (25-60 years) in the Basque Country (n = 2348).

RESULTS: Results draw a food pattern characterized by a high consumption of meat, 163+/-3.04 g day(-1) (mean +/- SEM), supplied mainly by poultry, butchery products, veal and fish (88+/-2.68 g day(-1)). The average consumption of milk and dairy products was 359+/-5.19 g day(-1), although 39% of the sample did consume less than 2 portions from this group of foods daily. Olive oil was the most widely used fat for cooking (45%), followed by sunflower seed oil (30%). Cereals supplied 21.5% of the average energy intake and the consumption of vegetables and garden products was 159+/-3.13 g day(-1). Only 29% of the group usually had 2 or more portions of vegetables per day. Women consumed higher amounts of chocolate, cookies, sweets and coffee (P < 0.01) than men. Younger adults consumed more meat (P < 0.01), while the older community consumed more fish, vegetables and fruit (P < 0.01). More highly educated people consumed more dairy products, vegetables and butter (P < 0.01). Conversely, less educated people consumed higher amounts of olive oil, pulses and bread (P < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: The dietary pattern observed in the Basque Country, although in keeping with its traditions, is in harmony with the actual dietary trends in Mediterranean countries. In order to satisfy the dietary guidelines suggested by the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition, it would be desirable to gradually increase the consumption of vegetables, fresh garden produce, fruit and cereals. At the same time, it would be advisable to decrease the consumption of animal products (whole fat dairy products, meat, added fats) so the proportion of energy intake from fat can be reduced by 5% (3% from saturated fatty acids).

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