Objective: To describe health and lifestyle factors of participants in the ZENITH study. Design: A prospective multicentre intervention study employing a randomised double-blind design. Participants: Community dwelling older adults (n = 387), aged 55-87 y were recruited from regions in France, Italy and the UK. Intervention: A self-report questionnaire comprising socio-demographic variables, dietary habits, physical activity in the home, at work and recreation. Results: Participants differed with regards dietary habits and physical activity for each region. Recreational activity was higher in France and women generally tend to perform less hours of recreational activity per week than men. Conclusions: The differences found for these regions of Europe in relation to lifestyle factors will affect health and well-being within these countries and may mediate the impact of zinc supplementation on various biological and psychological parameters.