Identifying dietary patterns and associated health-related lifestyle factors in the adult Danish population

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Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:

To identify and describe dietary patterns in Danish adults and to examine which demographic and health-related lifestyle factors are associated with dietary patterns.

SUBJECTS/METHODS:

Data derived from the Danish national survey of diet and physical activity collected in 2003-2008 and included 1569 men and 1785 women. Diet was assessed by a 7-day pre-coded food diary. Information on age, gender, weight, height, physical activity, smoking habits, educational level and attitudes towards healthy eating habits was derived from face-to-face interviews. Principal component analysis was applied to explore dietary patterns. Associations with lifestyle factors were examined by means of multiple regression analyses.

RESULTS:

Three major dietary patterns were identified: a ‘traditional’ pattern correlated with intake of rye bread, white bread, fat on bread, cheese, jam, cold meat, minced meat, potatoes and gravy, and cake and biscuits; a ‘health-conscious’ pattern correlated with coarse bread, fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, nuts, water and tea; and a ‘fast food’ pattern correlated with pizza, hamburger/spring rolls, crisps, rice and pasta, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and sweets. The ‘traditional’ pattern was positively associated with male gender and age, whereas the ‘health-conscious’ pattern was positively associated with being female, increasing age and educational level. The ‘fast food’ pattern was inversely associated with age and smoking.

CONCLUSIONS:

Three distinct dietary patterns were identified, and associated lifestyle and demographic factors were characterised. The findings are valuable in targeting future nutrition education and will enable more focused strategies in communicating food-based dietary guidelines.

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