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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jul;65 Suppl 1:S16-28. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.84.

Inventory of experiences from national/regional dietary monitoring surveys using EPIC-Soft.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.



The EPIC-Soft 24-h recall (the software developed to conduct 24-h dietary recalls (24-HDRs) in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study) has been used in several regional/national dietary monitoring surveys. The main objective of the study was to present and discuss design, settings, logistics, data management and quality controls of dietary monitoring surveys that used EPIC-Soft for the collection of food consumption data.


Within European Food Consumption Validation (EFCOVAL), a questionnaire including questions on current/past EPIC-Soft experiences and requirements for the future was developed and sent to all institutes that used EPIC-Soft in their food consumption survey(s) (five surveys in four different countries).


EPIC-Soft was used in the national food consumption survey in Belgium (≥ 15-97 years), Germany (14-80 years), the Netherlands (19-30 years and 2-6 years) and Spain (regional only; 4-18 years). Participation rates in these surveys were 46% (Belgium), 42% (Germany), 42% (Dutch survey in adults), 79% (Dutch survey in children) and 77% (Basque survey). Two 24-HDRs were collected by conducting face-to-face interviews in Belgium and Spain, and through telephone interviews in Germany and the Netherlands. Except the Netherlands (19-30 years), where the study was conducted only in autumn, in all other countries the study was conducted throughout the four seasons, including all days of the week. Interviews were conducted by dietitians, except in Germany and Spain. Mean EPIC-Soft interview time was 20-34 min. The dropout rate between the first and second interviews was low (<7.5%) in all surveys.


EPIC-Soft has been used in different study settings and populations for nutritional exposure assessments. To guarantee the comparability of data across countries, recommendations for the design of future pan-European dietary monitoring surveys using EPIC-Soft should be drawn.

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