European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 285–292

Regional dietary habits of French women born between 1925 and 1950

  • E. Kesse
  • M.-C. Boutron-Ruault
  • F. Clavel-Chapelon
  • *and the E3N group

DOI: 10.1007/s00394-004-0523-x

Cite this article as:
Kesse, E., Boutron-Ruault, MC., Clavel-Chapelon, F. et al. Eur J Nutr (2005) 44: 285. doi:10.1007/s00394-004-0523-x



Diseases distributions are not the same all over France. As diet is an important determinant of health it is essential to determine whether there was still a diversity in food habits across French regions.

Aim of the study

We examined regional differences in dietary habits and nutrient intakes among French women born between 1925 and 1950 participants in the “Etude Epidémiologique auprès des femmes de l’Education Nationale” (E3N) cohort.


Data were extracted from self–administered dietary history questionnaires completed by 73024 highly educated, middle–aged women between 1993 and 1995. Canonical and cluster analyses were used to identify contiguous areas of homogeneous dietary habits spanning two or more of the 20 French regions. Dietary clusters were described relatively to the entire cohort mean.


Eight dietary clusters were identified. The following food items were overconsumed: cooked vegetables in the Mediterranean, fish in the West, fruit in the South–East, and potatoes in the North. The following food items were under–consumed: fish in the East, fruit in the North, and potatoes in the South–East and Mediterranean cluster. Consumption of soup and fruit increased with age, while consumption of pork, horse meat and coffee fell with age. Ethanol intake was highest in the North and lowest in the South–East; the types of alcoholic beverages consumed also varied across clusters. Total energy intake, nutrient intakes, and the contribution of carbohydrates, fat and protein to total energy intake were similar across clusters. Intake of cholesterol and polyunsaturated fatty acids varied across clusters.


Dietary habits and alcohol consumption show marked regional differences in this population of middle–aged, highly educated French women. Changes in dietary behaviour with age involved few food items and were similar across clusters, suggesting that regional differences in food and beverage consumption persist.

Key words

regionalclusterchangesnutrientsdietary habits

Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Kesse
    • 1
  • M.-C. Boutron-Ruault
    • 2
  • F. Clavel-Chapelon
    • 1
  • *and the E3N group
  1. 1.INSERM Unité XR 521Equipe E3NVillejuif CedexFrance
  2. 2.Institut Scientifique et Techniquede l’Alimentation et de la Nutrition INSERM Unité 557 CNAMParisFrance