24/09/2014 3 min

ANSES food consumption data made available as open data

In 2009, ANSES published a full report on the food consumption data obtained from INCA 2, the second phase of the national food consumption survey it conducts every seven years. Today, it makes available all of the data it has obtained from this study as open data. Directly exploitable by all, and by researchers in nutritional epidemiology in particular, these data are valuable for expanding knowledge about the eating habits of the French population and the connection between diet and health.

What is the INCA 2 survey?

The role of food in the spread or prevention of certain diseases such as cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease, is today scientifically proven. In order to more effectively prevent these diseases and improve the population's health, it is essential for individuals to fully understand both their diet and their personal nutritional status. To do this, ANSES conducts its Individual National Survey on Food Consumption (INCA) every seven years under the auspices of the Ministries of Health and Agriculture.

The INCA surveys are an indispensable tool for risk assessment. They provide a snapshot of the food consumption habits of the population of metropolitan France at a given moment in time. Combined with ANSES's surveillance plans and databases on food composition (several million data items), this information makes it possible to know the amounts of beneficial substances found in our diet (vitamins, essential fatty acids, etc.) as well as the levels of exposure (i.e. ingested doses) to harmful substances that may be found in foodstuffs (heavymetals, pesticide residues, toxins, etc.).

INCA 2, the second phase of the INCA surveys, was conducted in 2006-2007. It revealed the changes in consumption patterns since the first survey, INCA 1, was conducted in 1998-1999.

Full availability of all INCA 2 survey data

According to the results of the INCA 2 survey, the average French diet is 44% carbohydrates, 39% fats and 17% protein, which still represents an excess intake of fats and insufficient levels of carbohydrates and fibres. Young adults do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.

The changes with regard to 1999 were generally positive, although uneven, and showed: 

  • a stabilisation of calorie intake in adults and a sharp drop in calorie intake in children under 14;
  • a rise in fruit consumption in adults and adolescents;
  • a decrease in alcoholic beverage consumption in adults;
  • a decrease in salt consumption, but which remains insufficient.

Today, ANSES makes all the raw INCA 2 data available as open data.  (link to the website)

The data available include all the topics covered by the survey:

  • the characteristics of individuals who participated in the study, especially demographic and socio-economic information, food choice criteria, food preparation and storage practices, lifestyle habits, health status, and attitudes and opinions about food;
  • individuals' daily nutritional intake of 38 nutrients;
  • details and measurements of the food consumed by individuals over a period of one week and a description of eating situations (location, duration, etc.);
  • food supplement consumption patterns (types and quantities used, contexts and purchasing motivations) and nutritional intakes from food supplements on an individual level.

This data is especially useful to researchers studying human nutrition and food for expanding knowledge about the eating habits of the French and the links between food and health.

What's next?

The third INCA survey was launched in 2014. For the first time, the food consumption patterns of children under three years of age will be included in the survey. The results of INCA 3 will update and supplement our knowledge of eating habits in France, essential for setting public health priorities in the areas of nutrition as well as food safety.