Since the last 20–30 years we observe a massive increase in the consumption of industrial foods. This rapid nutritional transition observed first in Western countries is now affecting medium and low income countries and vulnerable groups (eg, children), with an accelerated phenomena. Although the consumption of processed foods (incl. the Western-type diet) is hypothesised to be associated with the rapid increase of chronic diseases worldwide, the lack of specifically designed epidemiological studies is the main reason given by the WCRF for its non-conclusive report. A series of methodological issues related to the traditional dietary methodologies used in epidemiology, and the difficulty to estimate and monitor the consumption of processed foods are possible underlying explanations will be presented.
Results From recent studies on the contribution of (highly) industrially processed foods to the diet of a large population sample of the EPIC study (27 centres, 35–75 years, N=∼37 000), using a unique set of detailed and standardised 24-h dietary recalls (EPIC-soft program) and biomarkers of processed foods (trans fatty acid, acrylamide) will be used to illustrate our talk. In addition, the EPIC-soft web-based Methodological Platform—centralised platform at IARC developed to use, maintain and disseminate the standardised and validated EPIC-Soft Methodology for international epidemiological and monitoring surveys—will be used as an example of a longstanding international effort (EPIC, EFCOSUM, EFCOVAL, IDAMES, PANCAKE, EFSA) to improve dietary methodologies and contribute to a better estimation and monitoring of dietary exposure during this major nutritional transition phase and formulate targeted recommendations.
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