Background: The global increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes occurred after the worldwide spread of B-vitamins fortification, in which whether long-term exposure to high level of B vitamins plays a role is unknown. Our aim was to examine the relationships between B-vitamins consumption and the obesity and diabetes prevalence.
Methods: This population based ecological study was conducted to examine possible associations between the consumption of the B vitamins and macronutrients and the obesity and diabetes prevalence in the US population using the per capita consumption data from the US Economic Research Service and the prevalence data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Results: The prevalences of diabetes and adult obesity were highly correlated with per capita consumption of niacin, thiamin and riboflavin with a 26-and 10-year lag, respectively (R2 = 0.952, 0.917 and 0.83 for diabetes, respectively, and R2 = 0.964, 0.975 and 0.935 for obesity, respectively). The diabetes prevalence increased with the obesity prevalence with a 16-year lag (R2 = 0.975). The relationships between the diabetes or obesity prevalence and per capita niacin consumption were similar both in different age groups and in male and female populations. The prevalence of adult obesity and diabetes was highly correlated with the grain contribution to niacin (R2 = 0.925 and 0.901, respectively), with a 10-and 26-year lag, respectively. The prevalence of obesity in US adults during 1971-2004 increased in parallel with the increase in carbohydrate consumption with a 10-year lag. The per capita energy and protein consumptions positively correlated with the obesity prevalence with a one-year lag. Moreover, there was an 11-year lag relationship between per capita energy and protein consumption and the consumption of niacin, thiamin and riboflavin (R2 = 0.932, 0.923 and 0.849 for energy, respectively, and R2 = 0.922, 0.878 and 0.787 for protein, respectively).
Conclusions: Long-term exposure to high level of the B vitamins may be involved in the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the US in the past 50 years. The possible roles of B-vitamins fortification and excess niacin consumption in the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes were discussed.