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Dietary behaviour and health in Northern Ireland: an exploration of biochemical and haematological associations.
  1. M E Barker,
  2. S I McClean,
  3. J J Strain,
  4. K A Thompson
  1. Centre for Health and Social Research, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Co Londonderry, Northern Ireland.


    STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to determine the relationships between dietary behaviour and biochemical and haematological measures. DESIGN--This was a cross sectional population study. SETTING--The study took place in the general community within Northern Ireland. SUBJECTS--522 randomly selected adults aged 18-64 years took part (65% of the eligible sample). MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Four dietary behaviours were identified using principal components analysis from 7 d weighed dietary records described in terms of mean intake of 41 food groups. Haematological and biochemical analyses were carried out on non-fasting blood samples. Social, personal, and lifestyle information was ascertained through interviewer administered questionnaires. Partial correlations controlled for age and smoking behaviour were calculated. There were significant negative associations between iron status measures and the "traditional" behaviour, while the "meat and two veg" behaviour showed positive associations. There were positive associations between the "cosmopolitan" and "convenience" behaviours and folate status in women. White cell count and platelet levels in women were negatively associated with the "traditional" and "cosmopolitan" behaviours. Total cholesterol levels showed significant negative associations with the "cosmopolitan" behaviour in women and HDL cholesterol levels were positively associated with the "cosmopolitan", "convenience" and "meat and two veg" behaviours. CONCLUSIONS--Through a multivariate approach to dietary assessment it is possible to identify food combinations that cluster and interact to influence biochemical and haematological indices of health status.

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