Objective: To investigate the association between a vegetable-rich food pattern and obesity among Chinese adults.
Design: A food pattern rich in vegetables is associated with lower risk of obesity and non-communicable chronic disease in Western countries. A similar food pattern is found in the Chinese population but the cooking method is different. A cross-sectional household survey of 2849 men and women aged 20 years and over was undertaken in 2002 in Jiangsu Province (response rate, 89.0%). Food intake was assessed by food frequency questionnaire. Factor analysis was used to identify food patterns. Nutrient intake was measured by food weighing plus consecutive individual 3-day food records. Height, weight and waist circumference were measured.
Results: The prevalence of general obesity (BMI > or =28 kg m(-2)) was 8.0% in men and 12.7% in women, central obesity was 19.5% (> or =90 cm) and 38.2% (> or =80 cm), respectively. A four-factor solution explained 28.5% of the total variance in food frequency intake. The vegetable-rich food pattern (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) was positively associated with vegetable oil and energy intake. Prevalence of obesity/central obesity increased across the quartiles of vegetable-rich food pattern. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors and four distinct food patterns, the vegetable-rich pattern was independently associated with obesity. Compared with the lowest quartile of vegetable-rich pattern, the highest quartile had higher risk of general obesity (men, prevalence ratio (PR): 1.82, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.05-3.14; women, PR: 2.25, 95% CI: 1.45-3.49).
Conclusion: The vegetable-rich food pattern was associated with higher risk of obesity/central obesity in Chinese adults in both genders. This association can be linked to the high intake of energy due to generous use of oil for stir-frying the vegetables.