Objective: To describe dietary carbohydrate intakes and their food sources among 27 centres in 10 countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study.
Methods: Between 1995 and 2000, 36 034 subjects, aged between 35-74 years, were administered a standardized, 24-h dietary recall using a computerized interview software programme (EPIC-SOFT). Intakes (g/day) of total carbohydrate, sugars, starch and fibre were estimated using the standardized EPIC Nutrient Database (ENDB). Mean intakes were adjusted for age, total energy intake, height and weight, and were weighted by season and day of recall.
Results: Adjusted mean total carbohydrate intakes were highest in Italy and in the UK health-conscious cohort, and were lowest in Spain, Greece and France. Total fibre intakes were highest in the UK health-conscious cohort and lowest in Sweden and the UK general population. Bread contributed the highest proportion of carbohydrates (mainly starches) in every centre. Fruit consumption contributed a greater proportion of total carbohydrates (mainly sugars) among women than among men, and in southern centres compared with northern centres. Bread, fruits and vegetables represented the largest sources of fibre, but food sources varied considerably between centres. In stratified analyses, carbohydrate intakes tended to be higher among subjects who were physically active, never-smokers or non-drinkers of alcohol.
Conclusions: Dietary carbohydrate intakes and in particular their food sources varied considerably between these 10 European countries. Intakes also varied according to gender and lifestyle factors. These data will form the basis for future aetiological analyses of the role of dietary carbohydrates in influencing health and disease.