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Discovery and characterisation of dietary patterns in two Nordic countries

Using non-supervised and supervised multivariate statistical techniques to analyse dietary survey data

image of Discovery and characterisation of dietary patterns in two Nordic countries

This Nordic study encompasses multivariate data analysis (MDA) of preschool Danish as well as pre- and elementary school Swedish consumers. Contrary to other counterparts the study incorporates two separate MDA varieties - Pattern discovery (PD) and predictive modelling (PM). PD, i.e. hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and factor analysis (using PCA), helped identifying distinct consumer aggregations and relationships across food groups, respectively, whereas PM enabled the disclosure of deeply entrenched associations. 17 clusters - here defined as dietary prototypes - were identified by means of HCA in the entire bi-national data set. These prototypes underwent further processing, which disclosed several intriguing consumption data relationships: Striking disparity between consumption patterns of Danish and Swedish preschool children was unveiled and further dissected by PM. Two prudent and mutually similar dietary prototypes appeared among each of two Swedish elementary school children data subsets. Dietary prototypes rich in sweetened soft beverages appeared among Danish and Swedish children alike. The results suggest prototype-specific risk assessment and study design.

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Introduction/background

In Western societies, there is – since decades back – a trend towards higher caloric intake and overweight, but this predicament is increasingly common also in developing countries.1 Especially in tandem with a sedentary lifestyle, overweight and obesity predisposes to an array of cardiovascular disorders, type II diabetes and other ailments. Notably, the metabolic syndrome – a constellation of cardiovascular disease risk factors, e.g insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, hypertension and atherogenic dyslipidemia – shows high dietary association. Although many factors, including those beyond dietary habits, seemingly contribute to this unhealthy condition, it is worth mentioning that the global increase of sugar-sweetened beverages, as seen over the past several decades, has been firmly associated with mounted risk of developing both the metabolic syndrome and overt type 2 diabetes mellitus. Conversely, high intake of whole grain is connected with reduced risk of developing glucose tolerance typical of pre-diabetic conditions. Moreover, dietary habits can also contribute to the risk of contracting colorectal malignancy. Actually, there is concern among health professionals of a likely connection between high consumption of red and processed meat and colorectal carcinoma incidence, although no mechanistic model as yet has been demonstrated. Nutritional deficiencies – typified by those tied to an array of micronutrients such as (pro-) vitamins, essential fatty acids, iodine and selenium – are, naturally, equally important to confront. However, certain diets, e.g. those rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, whole-grain cereals, olive oil and certain fish species, especially in relation to typical consumption in many industrialised areas, have proven able to promote cardiovascular and overall health in the population. Notably, adherence to the Mediterranean diet, or an appropriate geographical derivative, seems conducive to good health status. Thus, it is imperative to create a supporting atmosphere for healthy eating, as vividly outlined in a review on prospects for governmental bodies to promoting healthy food and eating environments. Collective determinants of eating behaviour include a broad range of contextual factors which are, however, only partially understood.

English

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