Trends of food intake in Portugal, 1987-1999: results from the National Health Surveys

P Marques-Vidal, P Ravasco, C M Dias, M E Camilo
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006, 60 (12): 1414-22

OBJECTIVE: To assess trends of food intake in Portugal.

DESIGN: Analysis of three cross-sectional studies: 1987, 1995-1996 and 1998-1999.

SETTING: Representative samples of free-living individuals.

SUBJECTS: 64 734 men and 71 282 women.

INTERVENTIONS: Food intake was assessed by questionnaires inquiring the number of meals and which foodstuffs (fish, meat, milk, rice/pasta/potatoes, soup, vegetables and fruit) had been consumed the day before.

RESULTS: Age-adjusted average number of meals decreased from 3.3+/-0.1 in 1987 to 2.9+/-0.1 in 1998-1999 in both genders (P<0.001). In men, the percentage of subjects consuming meat, milk and potatoes/rice/pasta increased from 73, 66 and 91% in 1987 to 83, 74 and 95% in 1998-1999, respectively. The percentage of subjects consuming soup and fish decreased from 70 and 56% in 1987 to 62 and 53% in 1998-1999, respectively. In women, the percentage of subjects consuming meat, milk, potatoes/rice/pasta and vegetable increased from 70, 66, 89 and 71% in 1987 to 78, 77, 93 and 83% in 1998-1999, respectively. The percentage of subjects consuming soup and fish decreased from 70 and 55% in 1987 to 64 and 53% in 1998-1999, respectively. These trends were more pronounced in the younger age, which also displayed a higher frequency of snacking. Multivariate analysis adjusting for age group, region and educational level showed that the consumption of meat, milk and vegetables increased and the consumption of soup, fish and fruit decreased in 1998-1999 relative to 1995-1996.

CONCLUSIONS: Within a decade, the Portuguese dietary pattern has changed considerably, shifting from a traditional, south European to a more Westernized, protein-rich diet.

SPONSORSHIP: The Unidade de Nutrição e Metabolismo of the Instituto de Medicina Molecular is partially funded by a grant from the FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia) ref. RUN 437.

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