Ultra-processed food and incident type 2 diabetes: studying the underlying consumption patterns to unravel the health effects of this heterogeneous food category in the prospective Lifelines cohort

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Abstract

Background
The overall consumption of ultra-processed food (UPF) has previously been associated with type 2 diabetes. However, due to the substantial heterogeneity of this food category, in terms of their nutritional composition and product type, it remains unclear whether previous results apply to all underlying consumption patterns of UPF.

Methods
Of 70,421 participants (35–70 years, 58.6% women) from the Lifelines cohort study, dietary intake was assessed with a food frequency questionnaire. UPF was identified according to the NOVA classification. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed to derive UPF consumption patterns. The associations of UPF and adherence to UPF consumption patterns with incidence of type 2 diabetes were studied with logistic regression analyses adjusted for age, sex, diet quality, energy intake, alcohol intake, physical activity, TV watching time, smoking status, and educational level.

Results
During a median follow-up of 41 months, a 10% increment in UPF consumption was associated with a 25% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes (1128 cases; OR 1.25 [95% CI 1.16, 1.34]). PCA revealed four habitual UPF consumption patterns. A pattern high in cold savory snacks (OR 1.16 [95% CI 1.09, 1.22]) and a pattern high in warm savory snacks (OR 1.15 [95% CI 1.08, 1.21]) were associated with an increased risk of incident type 2 diabetes; a pattern high in traditional Dutch cuisine was not associated with type 2 diabetes incidence (OR 1.05 [95% CI 0.97, 1.14]), while a pattern high in sweet snacks and pastries was inversely associated with type 2 diabetes incidence (OR 0.82 [95% CI 0.76, 0.89]).

Conclusions
The heterogeneity of UPF as a general food category is reflected by the discrepancy in associations between four distinct UPF consumption patterns and incident type 2 diabetes. For better public health prevention, research is encouraged to further clarify how different UPF consumption patterns are related to type 2 diabetes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medicine
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2022

Keywords

  • Dietary pattern
  • Epidemiology
  • Nutrition
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Ultra-processed food

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