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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;57(2):285-92.

Gender, age, socio-demographic and lifestyle factors associated with major dietary patterns in the Spanish Project SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra).

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Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Navarre, Pamplona, Spain.



To ascertain the major dietary patterns in the cohort 'SUN' and to assess the association of several sociodemographic (including age and gender) and lifestyle variables with the adherence to these dietary patterns.


This study is a cross-sectional analysis of 3847 subjects (1587 men and 2260 women) belonging to a prospective cohort study based on self-reported questionnaires. A factor analysis based on 30 predefined food groups was conducted to ascertain the major dietary patterns in the cohort. Multiple regression models were fitted to assess the relationship between several sociodemographic and lifestyle variables and the adherence to these dietary patterns (measured using two scores with observed values ranging from -3.2 to +4.6 for the Western pattern and -3.1 to +5.5 for the Mediterranean pattern).


Two major dietary patterns were found. The first pattern was labelled as a 'Western' dietary pattern and the other as a 'Spanish-Mediterranean' dietary pattern. Younger subjects were more likely to follow a 'Western' dietary pattern; the coefficient representing the change for every 10 y increase in age was b=-0.24 (P<0.001) for men and b=-0.12 (P<0.001) for women. More physically active subjects were less likely to follow a 'Western' dietary pattern and more likely to follow a 'Spanish-Mediterranean' dietary pattern.


An association between a higher level of physical activity during leisure time and adherence to a 'Spanish-Mediterranean' diet was apparent. However, the profile of being a young, sedentary and single male was identified as the most likely to exhibit a departure from the traditional 'Spanish-Mediterranean' diet and follow a 'Western' dietary pattern.

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