To monitor trends in Danish food habits with respect to selected key elements, from 1995 to 1998, and to evaluate the appropriateness of the method developed for that purpose.Design and method:
Two cross-sectional population surveys, in 1995 and 1998. Data collection by computer-assisted telephone interviews including 10 food-frequency questions, questions on type of fat used on sandwiches and drinking milk, and check questions on the previous day. Reproducibility was tested in a subgroup (n=222) in the 1998 survey.Setting:
The Danish Nutrition Council initiated the survey.Subjects:
Men and women aged 15–90 years, 1007 in 1995 and 1024 in 1998. Samples of private telephone numbers were drawn from regional telephone registers, geographically stratified. Participation rates were 62%.Results:
Significant differences were observed between 1995 and 1998, some of these in accordance with dietary guidelines (decreased use of whole milk and fat spread on bread, increased use of skimmed milk, salad vegetables, rice/pasta and fish). Other changes were opposite to dietary guidelines (increased use of soft butter, decreased use of soft margarine and low-fat spreads, potatoes, and fresh fruit). Differences in average consumption frequency amounted to 4–13%. Several results were confirmed by comparison with other data, and the reproducibility of the method was acceptable. Data were suitable for analysis of food use patterns, a relevant approach when assessing food habits in a lifestyle context.Conclusions:
The changes observed illustrate the dynamics of food habits and the need for frequent monitoring. This simple telephone method may be a valuable tool for that purpose, as a supplement to national dietary surveys, also in a public health context.