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Arch Hellen Med, 22(3), May-June 2005, 259-269


Dietary habits in Greece:
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (the EPIC project)

Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

╬čBJECTIVE Description of the daily consumption of foods and beverages and the daily intake of energy and macronutrients of a sample of the general Greek population.

METHOD The study sample consisted of volunteers 20-86 years old, recruited during a five-year period (1994 to 1999) from around Greece to participate in the Greek component of the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition). The baseline examination included anthropometric assessments, measurements of blood pressure and pulse, blood collection and the completion of a food frequency and a lifestyle questionnaire, including questions on participants' medical history and socio-demographic characteristics. After exclusion of volunteers with missing information and of under-reporters of energy intake, 20,822 individuals (8,652 men and 12,170 women) were included in the analysis.

RESULTS The Greek EPIC findings confirm the high consumption of vegetables, fruit, cereals, meat, milk and milk products and the clear preference for olive oil consumption among the Greek population. Males, in comparison to females, generally reported higher dietary intake. After, however, the application of energy adjustment, women of all age groups recorded higher olive oil consumption than men. The contribution of carbohydrates and lipids to daily energy intake is also higher among women than among men.

CONCLUSIONS The Greek EPIC results describe the dietary habits of a large sample of the general Greek population and confirm previous observations that Greeks are gradually departing from their traditional diet. Taking into consideration the dietary guidelines for adults of the Hellenic Ministry of Health, Greeks specifically consume more red meat, while their fruit and legume intake is lower than recommended. The Greek EPIC findings point towards the need for formulating plans of action for monitoring and improving the dietary choices of contemporary Greeks.

Key words: Carbohydrates, EPIC, Food, Lipids, Proteins.

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