Objective: To describe dietary protein intakes and their food sources among 27 redefined centres in 10 countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Methods: Between 1995 and 2000, 36 034 persons, aged between 35 and 74 years, were administered a standardized 24-h dietary recall (24-HDR) using a computerized interview software programme (EPIC-SOFT). Intakes (g/day) of total, animal and plant proteins were estimated using the standardized EPIC Nutrient Database (ENDB). Mean intakes were adjusted for age, and weighted by season and day of recall.
Results: Mean total and animal protein intakes were highest in the Spanish centres among men, and in the Spanish and French centres among women; the lowest mean intakes were observed in the UK health-conscious group, in Greek men and women, and in women in Potsdam. Intake of plant protein was highest among the UK health-conscious group, followed by some of the Italian centres and Murcia, whereas Sweden and Potsdam had the lowest intake. Cereals contributed to the highest proportion of plant protein in all centres. The combined intake of legumes, vegetables and fruit contributed to a greater proportion of plant protein in the southern than in the northern centres. Total meat intake (with some heterogeneity across subtypes of meat) was, with few exceptions, the most important contributor to animal protein in all centres, followed by dairy and fish products.
Conclusions: This study shows that intake of protein, especially of animal origin, differs across the 10 European countries, and also shows some differences in food sources of protein across Europe.