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Purpose: The UK Biobank study collected detailed dietary data using a web-based self-administered 24 h assessment tool, the Oxford WebQ. We aimed to describe a comprehensive food grouping system for this questionnaire and to report dietary intakes and key sources of selected nutrients by sex and education. Methods: Participants with at least one valid 24-h questionnaire were included (n = 208,200). Dietary data were grouped based on the presence of nutrients as well as culinary use, processing, and plant/animal origin. For each food group, we calculated the contribution to energy intake, key macronutrients, and micronutrients. We also identified the top contributors to energy intake, free sugars and saturated fat by sex and education. Results: From the 93 food groups, the top five contributors to energy intake (in descending order) were: desserts/cakes/pastries; white bread; white pasta/rice; bananas/other fruit; semi-skimmed milk. Wine, beer, and fruit juices were the top beverage contributors to overall energy intake. Biscuits, and desserts/cakes/pastries were the highest contributors to free sugars, total fat, and saturated fat intakes, but also contributed to the calcium and iron intakes. Top contributors to energy, saturated fat, and free sugars were broadly similar by sex and education category, with small differences in average nutrient intakes across the population. Conclusion: This new food classification system will support the growing interest in the associations between food groups and health outcomes and the development of food-based dietary guidelines. Food group variables will be available to all users of the UK Biobank WebQ questionnaire.

Original publication




Journal article


European Journal of Nutrition

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