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Information on anthropometric characteristics is considered very important, for two reasons. First, the incidence of some cancers may be related to anthropometric patterns (e.g. height, fat distribution), particularly cancers of the breast, endometrium, and possibly colon. Second, anthropometric characteristics are linked to energy intake, energy metabolism, and metabolic efficiency as well as to physical activity. Body mass index (BMI), for example, may be related to the type of energy-providing nutrients as well as to total energy intake.

In all EPIC centres except France, the Oxford cohort, and Norway, height, weight, and waist and hip circumference were measured for all participants by trained observers using standardized methods (in Umeå, only weight and height were measured). In addition, in Italy, Spain, Utrecht, Greece, Germany, and Denmark, sitting height was measured. In France and Oxford, weight, height, and waist and hip circumference (and sitting height, in France) were measured only for a restricted number of participants, but self-reported weight and height were obtained from all individuals. In Oxford, self-reported measurements also included waist and hip circumference. In Norway, only self-reported height and weight are available.