Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Soy product consumption in 10 European countries: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study

L Keinan-Bokera1 c1, PHM Peetersa1, AA Mulligana2, C Navarroa3, N Slimania4, EPIC Study Group on Soy Consumption:, I Mattissona5, E Lundina6, A McTaggarta2, NE Allena7, K Overvada8, A Tjønnelanda9, F Clavel-Chapelona10, J Linseisena11, M Haftenbergera12, P Lagioua13, V Kalapothakia13, A Evangelistaa14, G Frascaa15, HB Bueno-de-Mesquitaa16, YT van der Schouwa1, D Engeseta17, G Skeiea17, MJ Tormoa3, E Ardanaza18, UR Charrondièrea4 and E Ribolia14

a1 Julius Center for General Practice and Patient Oriented Research, DO1.335, University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU), PO Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, UK

a3 Department of Epidemiology, Regional Health Council, Murcia, Spain

a4 International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France

a5 Department of Medicine, Surgery and Orthopaedics, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden

a6 Medical Bio-sciences/Pathology and Public Health and Clinical Medicine/Nutritional Research, University of Umeå, Sweden

a7 Cancer Research UK, Oxford, UK

a8 Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Aarhus University, Denmark

a9 Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark

a10 INSERM, E3N–EPIC Group, Institute Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France

a11 Division of Clinical Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany

a12 Department of Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Germany

a13 Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Greece

a14 Unit of Epidemiology, National Cancer Institute, Milan, Italy

a15 Cancer Registry, ‘Civile – M. P. Arezzo’ Hospital, Ragusa, Italy

a16 Cancer Epidemiology, Centre of Chronic Diseases Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a17 Institute of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway

a18 Cancer Registry of Navarra, Institute of Public Health, Regional Government of Navarra, Spain


Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the variation of soy product intake in 10 European countries by using a standardised reference dietary method. A subsidiary aim was to characterise the pattern of soy consumption among a sub-group of participants with a habitual health-conscious lifestyle (HHL), i.e. non-meat eaters who are fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans.

Design: A 24-hour dietary recall interview (24-HDR) was conducted among a sample (5–12%) of all cohorts (n = 36 900) in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Study participants totalled 35 955 after exclusion of subjects younger than 35 or older than 74 years of age. Soy products were subdivided into seven sub-groups by similarity. Distribution of consumption and crude and adjusted means of intake were computed per soy product group across countries. Intake of soy products was also investigated among participants with an HHL.

Results: In total, 195 men and 486 women reported consuming soy products in the 24-HDR interview. Although soy product intake was generally low across all countries, the highest intake level was observed in the UK, due to over-sampling of a large number of participants with an HHL. The most frequently consumed soy foods were dairy substitutes in the UK and France and beans and sprouts among mid-European countries. For both genders, the sub-group of soy dairy substitutes was consumed in the highest quantities (1.2 g day−1 for men; 1.9 g day−1 for women). Participants with an HHL differed substantially from others with regard to demographic, anthropometric and nutritional factors. They consumed higher quantities of almost all soy product groups.

Conclusions: Consumption of soy products is low in centres in Western Europe. Soy dairy substitutes are most frequently consumed. Participants with an HHL form a distinct sub-group with higher consumptions of fruit, vegetables, legumes, cereals and soy products compared with the other participants.


c1 *Corresponding author: Email