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Ecological correlations between food availability and mortality: more than you can eat?
Title of the conference
12. Dreiländertagung der AKE, der DGEM und der GESKES : Jahrestagung des SVDE
Zürich, Schweiz, 6-8 Juni, 2013
Introduction: There is little information regarding the impact of diet on disease incidence and mortality in Switzerland. Objectives: We aimed at assessing the associations between food availability and disease using ecological correlations. Methods: Time-trend ecologic study for period 1970 to 2009. Food availability was measured through the FAO food balance sheets. Standardized mortality rates (SMRs) were obtained from the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics. Cancer incidence data was obtained from the WHO Health for all database and the Vaud cancer registry. Association between food availability and mortality/incidence was assessed at lags 0, 5, 10 and 15 years by Spearman correlation. Results: Alcoholic beverages and fruit availability were positively associated with SMRs from all types of cardiovascular disease, while fish availability was negatively associated. Animal products, meat and animal fats were positively associated with SMR from ischemic heart disease only. For cancers, opposite results were found whether the association used SMRs or incidence rates. For all cancers, alcoholic beverages and fruits were positively associated with SMRs but negatively associated with incidence rates. Similar findings were obtained for all other foods, with the exception of vegetables, which were weakly and negatively associated with SMRs and incidence rates. Finally, a 15 years lag time reversed the association for animal and vegetal products, weakened the association for alcohol and fruits and strengthened the association for fish. Conclusion: Ecologic associations between food availability and disease vary considerably whether mortality or incidence rates are used. Great care should be taken when interpreting the results.
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