Objectives: To determine the relationship of diet to overweight and obesity among populations of African origin.
Design and setting: Cross-sectional data were obtained from adults aged 25-74 years in rural Cameroon (n = 686), urban Cameroon (n = 975), Jamaica (n = 924) and Afro-Caribbeans in the UK (n = 257). Dietary data were collected using food-frequency questionnaires specifically designed for each site. Body mass index (BMI) was used as a measure of overweight.
Results: The expected gradient in the distribution of overweight across sites was seen in females (rural Cameroon, 9.5%; urban Cameroon, 47.1%; Jamaica, 63.8%; UK, 71.6%); however, among males overweight was less prevalent in Jamaica (22.0%) than urban Cameroon (36.3%). In developing countries increased risks of overweight (BMI > or = 25 kg m(-2) were influenced by higher energy (urban Cameroonian men) and protein (Jamaican women) intakes. No dietary variables were associated with obesity (BMI > or = 30 kg m(-2) in Cameroon or Jamaica. In the UK, energy intakes were inversely related with overweight whereas increased risks of being overweight were associated with higher protein (men) and fat (women) intakes. Similarly, whereas higher protein and fat intakes in UK men and women were associated with obesity, carbohydrate intakes were associated with decreased risks of obesity in men.
Conclusions: Diet and overweight were associated in the UK but few dietary variables were related to overweight in Jamaica and the Cameroon. These findings suggest that associations between diet and overweight/obesity are not generalisable among populations.