The UK Women's Cohort Study: comparison of vegetarians, fish-eaters and meat-eaters

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Cade, JE ; Burley, VJ ; Greenwood, DC (2004)
  • Publisher: Nutrition Society
  • Subject:
    mesheuropmc: food and beverages

Background: This paper describes the development of the UK Women's Cohort Study and presents cohort baseline characteristics. Methods: In total, 35 372 women, aged 35–69 years at recruitment, were selected to ensure a wide range of dietary intakes. Diet was assessed by a 217-item food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Detailed lifestyle information was collected by postal questionnaire. Vegetarians, fish-eaters and meat-eaters were compared. Results: The cohort women are mainly white, well-educated, middle-class and married with children. They are health-conscious with only 11% current smokers and 58% taking dietary supplements. Twenty-eight per cent of subjects self-report as being vegetarian and 1% as vegan. However, only 18% are defined as 'vegetarian' from the FFQ. Fat provides 32% of energy; vitamin and mineral intakes are high, with a broad range of intakes. Meat-eaters are older, with a higher body mass index (BMI) and the lowest intakes of carbohydrate, fibre, vitamin C, folate, iron and calcium. Other fish-eaters are similar to vegetarians. Vegetarians have the lowest intakes of protein, fat and saturated fat. Oily fish-eaters have the lowest BMI; are the least likely to smoke or use full-fat milk; and are the most likely to use dietary supplements and consume the most fruit and vegetables. Oily fish-eaters have the highest total energy intake and vegetarians the lowest. Semi-skimmed milk, bread, potatoes, wine, bananas and muesli are important contributors to energy for all groups.
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