Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

An evaluation of energy intakes and the ratio of energy intake to estimated basal metabolic rate (EI/BMRest) in the North/South Ireland Food Consumption Survey

MJ McGowana1 p1 c1, KE Harringtona1, M Kielya2, PJ Robsona3, MBE Livingstonea3 and MJ Gibneya1

a1 Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) at: department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James's Hospital, Dublin 8, Republic of Ireland

a2 Nutritional Sciences, Department of Food Science and Technology, University College, Cork, Republic of Ireland

a3 Northern Ireland Centre for Diet and Health (NICHE), University of Ulster, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, BT52 ISA, Northern Ireland


Objective To examine energy intakes (El), their ratio to estimated basal metabolic rate (BMRest) and the contribution of food groups to energy intake in the North/South Ireland Food Consumption Survey.

Design and setting Random sample of adults from the populations of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Food intake data were collected using a 7-day food diary. Body weight and height were measured and EI/BMRest was calculated from reported energy intake and estimated basal metabolic rate. Dieting practices were assessed as part of a self-administered questionnaire.

Results Mean energy intake in men was 11.0 MJ and in women was 7.6 MJ, which is comparable to reported energy intakes in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland over a decade ago. Mean EI/BMRest was 1.38. This increased to 1.42 after the exclusion of dieters and those who were unwell, but still remained less than the established cut-off of 1.53. EI/BMRest was significantly (P < 0.05) higher in men than in women and decreased significantly (P < 0.05) with increasing BMI in both sexes. The four food groups that contributed 50% of energy in men and women were meat and meat products, breads and rolls, potatoes and potato products, and biscuits, cakes, pastries and puddings.

Conclusions Energy intakes have not changed remarkably in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland in the last 10 years, but the mean EI/BMRest of 1.38 suggests that energy underreporting occurred. EI/BMRest was lower in women and in the overweight/obese. Additional multivariate analysis of the data is needed to identify more clearly subgroups of the population reporting lower than expected energy intakes and to evaluate the effect of low energy reporting on the consumption of various foods and food groups.


c1 Email

p1 Present address: IUNA, Room 2.7 (2nd floor), Biotechnology Institute, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Republic of Ireland