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Open Access Research article

Descriptive epidemiological study of food intake among Japanese adults: analyses by age, time and birth cohort model

Rei Otsuka1*, Hiroshi Yatsuya23 and Koji Tamakoshi4

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Longitudinal Study of Aging, National Institute for Longevity Sciences (NILS-LSA), National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, 36-3 Gengo, Morioka-cho, Obu, Aichi, 474-8511, Japan

2 Department of Public Health, Fujita Health University School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan

3 Department of Public Health and Health Systems, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan

4 Department of Nursing, Nagoya University School of Health Sciences, Nagoya, Japan

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:328  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-328

Published: 8 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Although food and nutrient consumption among the Japanese population, known to have one of the longest life expectancies in the world, has changed markedly after World War II, little is known about the influences age, time and birth cohort have had. The present study examined the effects age, time and birth cohort have had on intake of 14 food groups from 1989 to 2009, using published data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey in Japan.

Methods

The survey included 575 adults (271 men and 304 women) in 1989, 8431 (3952 men and 4479 women) in 1999 and 5632 (2629 men and 3003 women) in 2009. The effects of age on energy-adjusted food intakes defined by gender and birth cohort (birth in 1930–1939, 1940–1949, 1950–1959, 1960–1969, 1970–1979) were estimated using the mean polish process.

Results

Intakes of meat and confectionary increased whereas those of milk and dairy products, sugar, and fats and oils decreased from 1989 to 2009. Both men and women in the 1940’s birth cohort consumed more fruit, although differences in food intake by birth cohort were less discernible. Furthermore, meat, fats and oils, and wheat intake decreased while fruits, fish, beans and vegetables consumption increased with aging in both men and women.

Conclusions

The present analysis suggests intakes of meat and confectionary have increased in Japan over the past 20 years regardless of age and generation. Also, younger individuals are less likely to consume fruits, fish, beans and vegetables regardless of the birth cohort and time period. Differences in food group consumption by birth cohorts born between 1930 and 1979 were not obvious. The first indication of these findings would be that in order to avoid ongoing increases in meat and confectionery intake, the public health strategy should target the whole Japanese population. Secondly, intervening with the diet of younger individuals, especially today, would be reasonable as it is unknown whether today’s younger individuals will adopt a healthier diet when they age as the other generations did.

Keywords:
Age effect; Diet; Japan; National survey