Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Physical activity of subjects aged 50–64 years involved in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)

M Haftenbergera1 c1, AJ Schuita2, MJ Tormoa3, H Boeinga1, N Warehama4, HB Bueno-de-Mesquitaa2, M Kumlea5, A Hjartåkera6, MD Chirlaquea3, E Ardanaza7, C Andrena8, B Lindahla9, PHM Peetersa10, NE Allena11, K Overvada12, A Tjønnelanda13, F Clavel-Chapelona14, J Linseisena15, MM Bergmanna1, A Trichopouloua16, P Lagioua16, S Salvinia17, S Panicoa18, E Ribolia19, P Ferraria19 and N Slimania19

a1 German Institute of Human Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology, Arthur Scheunert Allee 114–116, D-14558 Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Germany.

a2 Centre of Chronic Diseases Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.

a3 Council for Health and Social Affairs of Murcia, Spain.

a4 Department of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, UK.

a5 Institute of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway.

a6 Section for Medical Statistics, University of Oslo, Norway.

a7 Institute of Public Health, Regional Government of Navarra, Spain.

a8 Department of Medicine, Lund University, Malmö University Hospital, Sweden.

a9 Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Sweden.

a10 Julius Center for General Practice and Patient Oriented Research, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

a11 Cancer Research UK, Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, UK.

a12 Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Aarhus, Denmark.

a13 Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark.

a14 INSERM, E3N–EPIC Group, Institute Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.

a15 Division of Clinical Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany.

a16 Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Greece.

a17 Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology Unit, CSPO, Scientific Institute of Tuscany, Florence, Italy.

a18 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Federico II University, Naples, Italy.

a19 International Agency for Cancer Research, Lyon, France


Objective: To describe physical activity of participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).

Design: A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data of a European prospective cohort study.

Subjects: This analysis was restricted to participants in the age group 50–64 years, which was represented in all EPIC centres. It involved 236 386 participants from 25 centres in nine countries. In each EPIC centre, physical activity was assessed by standardised and validated questions. Frequency distribution of type of professional activity and participation in non-professional activities, and age-adjusted means, medians and percentiles of time dedicated to non-professional activities are presented for men and women from each centre.

Results: Professional activity was most frequently classified as sedentary or standing in all centres. There was a wide variation regarding participation in different types of non-professional activities and time dedicated to these activities across EPIC centres. Over 80% of all EPIC participants engaged in walking, while less than 50% of the subjects participated in sport. Total time dedicated to recreational activities was highest among the Dutch participants and lowest among men from Malmö (Sweden) and women from Naples (Italy). In all centres, total time dedicated to recreational activity in the summer was higher than in the winter. Women from southern Europe spent the most time on housekeeping.

Conclusions: There is a considerable variation of physical activity across EPIC centres. This variation was especially evident for recreational activities in both men and women.


c1 *Corresponding author: Email