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Dietary habits profile in European communities with different risk
of myocardial infarction: The impact of migration as a model
of gene/environment interaction

Contract number : QLK1-2000-00100
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 2.280.625
EC contribution : € 1.587.543
Starting date : 1/01/2001
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Barend Verachtert
Project website : immidiet
Dr Licia Iacoviello
Consorzio Mario Negri Sud
Department of Vascular Medicine and Pharmacology
Via Nazionale, 1
66030 Santa Maria Imbaro
Tel.: +390872570298
Fax: +39087257112
E-mail: iaco @

Risk factors influenced by both nutrition and genetic polymorphisms will be studied in 3 European communities by general practitioner's networks. Firstly, 270 Be/Be couples in Belgium will be compared with 270 age- and sex-matched It/It couples in Italy and 270 UK/UK couples in the UK. Migration of Italians to Belgium will be used as a model of interaction between nutrition and genetics, to explain differences in the prevalence of cardiovascular risk across Europe. For this purpose, 270 mixed couples, formed in Belgium by a It/Be marriage, with the same range of age of the It/It, Be/Be and UK/UK couples, will be recruited. Members of the mixed couples will be compared between them and with It and Be couples. A new multilanguage food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) will be developed to evaluate dietary factors and analysed with an adapted program, using integrated tables of food composition.


The general aim is to evaluate the impact of dietary habits on the risk profile of 3 European communities at different risk of myocardial infarction (MI). As an index of MI, risk factors under the combined influence of both dietary and genetic determinants will be studied. These include coagulation factor VII (FVII), homocysteine metabolism and a number of metabolic factors of the so-called "metabolic syndrome" of cardiovascular risk (high blood pressure, abdominal fat accumulation, hyperinsulinaemia/insulin resistance, lipid and lipoprotein abnormalities). Migration from Italy to Belgium will be used as a "natural" model of gene/environment interaction.

Specific objectives will include the evaluation of:

  • differences in the variables studied in populations at different risk of MI and host countries for possible future immigrations;
  • changes in dietary habits and biomarkers of food intake of mixed couples as compared with those of the original population;
  • the effects of such changes on specific CAD risk also in relation to their genetic determinants.

This study will provide:

  • an integrated multilanguage questionnaire for food intake assessment to evaluate dietary habits in multicultural populations;
  • educational support for health care providers and promotion of healthy dietary habits for the prevention of CAD.
(expected) Results and achievements
  • Assessment of differences in dietary pattern among three European populations at different risk of CAD, changes attributable to migration, evaluation of the possible impact of changing lifestyle on specific indicators of cardiovascular risk, in relation to genetic background;
  • Identification of subgroups of subjects exposed to specific environmental or genetic situations which could benefit of "healthy foods" consumption;
  • Development and validation of an integrated dietary questionnaire.

The main target of the project will be European General Practitioners who will be involved in scientific and educational programme addressed to their patients. A secondary target is represented by agro-food companies. The dissemination will be addressed to a specialised public (scientists, GPs), through scientific papers, while presentations, articles, conferences and booklets based on the information gathered will be produced for the general public (people, SMEs, policy makers).


Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Department of General Practice
Kapucijnenvoer 33/Blok J
3000 Leuven
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Center for Molecular and Vascular Biology
Campus Gasthuisberg, Herestraat 49
3000 Leuven
Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche
Istituto di Scienze dell' Alimentazione
Via Roma, 52A/C
83100 Avellino
Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori
Unità Operativa di Epidemiologia
Via G. Venezian, 1
20133 Milano
Maastricht University
Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute
Department of Epidemiology
Universiteitssingel 50
6229 Er Maastricht
The Netherlands
Cranmer Terrace
SW17 0RE London
United Kingdom
UFR de Medicine et Pharmacie
Université Joseph Fourier de Grenoble
Laboratoire du Stress Cardiovasculaire et Pathologies Associées
Domaine de la Merci
38706 La Tronche

Fifth Framework Programme

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